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Review | Unfortunate | The Lowry | 23/02/2024

Ursula is arguably the ultimate camp villain, and ‘Unfortunate’ gives her the spotlight to tell things from her unique perspective. Unlike The Little Mermaid, from which this story is based, this filthy parody musical is most certainly not for children!

‘Unfortunate’ began its life as a humble 70 minute fringe show, before becoming a fully fledged two act musical. Having already seen the show back in 2022, I was keen to see how it had developed even further! If you have seen this show before, you are in for one hell of a treat with the glow up it has received. From costuming, to set, to lighting, everything has been elevated to the next level and is a visual treat. It’s slick, polished yet doesn’t lose its charm, particularly with some hilariously timed same scene multi-roling by the hilarious Allie Dart.

Ursula has never been more iconic than in Shawna Hamic’s portrayal here. The audience fell in love with her the second she arrived with the words 'Surprise Bitch' in the song Nasty. Her confidence and body positivity without an once of shame was inspiring, and something that we don’t see as much on stage as we should.

With undertones of the original score, it has some wickedly funny songs which really made the audience howl. The Lowry was almost vibrating with laughter at the parody of 'Part of Your World' that makes clear what Ariel was really looking for above the surface. When I first saw this show, I felt this version wouldn’t have been out of place in a drag show down the road in Manchester’s Gay Village. This time, they had cast RuPaul’s drag race alumni River Medway in the role of Ariel which was truly inspired.

Reinventing Ariel as a dumb Essex girl, could have been seen as just lazy mocking the 'Love Island generation'. However, this was instead done to poke fun at the original story. This character choice demonstrated how ridiculous it is to have a story based on a woman trying to attract a partner through her looks alone, and that she doesn't need to have any sort of voice to do so.  Like Book of Mormon, they manage to get away with almost absurd humour by having a more important message underneath and they do it to perfection.

It would have been easy to just parody the film/story alone, however they took it that step further when addressing Walt Disney's alleged fascist views in 'We Didn't Make It to Disney'. Unfortunate didn't stop there, poking fun at other musicals with the end of 'To Be King' giving 'Defying Gravity' vibes with its sustained end note with accompanying chorus.

This new production has evolved so much since its previous outing, and is more than worth its very reasonable top ticket price of £39. However, with this development has come a longer run time. As a parody show, it should feel snappy but at over 2.5hours the show could be condensed to keep it as engaging as possible. That said, this show is bucket loads of fun and does exactly what it says on the tin brilliantly.

Unfortunate plays at The Lowry until Saturday 02 March 2024. See link below if you want to spend the night with this octo-feminist icon!

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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