Fat Rascal Theatre return with another well-conceived Disney parody and successful show to add to their canon. Daniel Perks reviews Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch:

Is Ursula the sea witch voguing in the title song to Unfortunate?!

I. AM. LIVING.

Unfortunate Underbelly Bristo Square
Robyn Grant & Steffan Rizzi (image courtesy of Matt Cawrey)

The sea witch (a show-stealing performance by co-writer Robyn Grant) keeps herself young in all the right ways – masturbation and rage. She does a favour for long-lost love interest Triton (Steffan Rizzi) and tries to teach his dumb-ass daughter Ariel (Katie Wells) a lesson in strong female role models. Ariel is busy chasing big dick and instantly spots well hung Eric (Jamie Mawson). Of course, hilarity ensues, not least because Allie Munro is multi-roling with her usual blend of vocal acrobatics and perfectly timed comedy turns.

Unfortunate Underbelly Bristo Square
Allie Munro (image courtesy of Matt Cawrey)

Yes, I am biased. Disney is the ultimate brand and Ursula is the fictional embodiment of EVERYTHING I WANT TO BE when I grow up. But Unfortunate is Fat Rascal Theatre’s best show to date in my eyes.

And it’s more than a take-down of Disney, or a Wicked-equivalent alternative to The Little Mermaid – the real T from the “villain’s” perspective. Grant and co-writer Daniel Foxx deliver an empowering tale of strength, intelligence and self-confidence. Tim Gilvin’s score heavily eludes to Disney but brings an expertly judged parodic flair. As the audience, we bop along with smirks on our faces, knowing that the songs are just different enough to subvert the stereotype.

Unfortunate Underbelly Bristo Square
Katie Wells (image courtesy of Matt Cawrey)

Similarities are abound in this tale, but Grant is far too clever to copy directly from the capitalist corporates. Every decision is a slightly twisted take on the original, the storyline reminding us of how misogynistic the Disney brand is:

Girl is forbidden by father to choose her own lover and then picks a prince after one meeting because he has nice eyes. She gives up her very essence to be with him, the thing that makes her unique – her own voice.

“There’s no dick in the world big enough to give up your voice for”.

Grant’s intentionally crude summary of a crucial message. Listen up Donald Trump.

Image courtesy of Matt Cawrey

Fat Rascal Theatre champions acceptance, body confidence and positivity. They perfectly balance light-hearted laughs with deeper understanding. As an ensemble, everything is precisely on-beat, from Abby Clarke and Hugh Purves’ spectacular puppets to Katrin Padel’s aquatically ethereal lighting. This is fringe musical theatre at its very best.

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Image courtesy of Matt Cawrey

Unfortunate is anything but. And if we take nothing else from this utter triumph of a musical, we should listen to Munro’s Sebastien and,

“Ask… Before you kiss the girl”. Sha-la-la-la.

★★★★☆

Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch played at Underbelly Bristo Square. For more information, please visit the festival website.