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Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch | Review

By Emma Chen

Rating: 4.5/5


If you ever wondered what Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid was up to before meddling with Ariel's life, the musical parody Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch currently showing at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen has all the answers. And let me tell you, it is a hilarious, campy ride that had me hooked from the first moment Ursula swam onto the stage with all the sass and spark you would expect from a fabulous sea witch.

Image provided by Aberdeen Performing Arts

Without a doubt, the shining pearl of the show is its cast. Shawna Hamic (from Orange is the New Black, among other great shows) as Ursula is an absolute force of nature, blending humour, fierceness, and killer vocals into one phenomenal package. You can't help but relate to—and root for—this wronged diva of the deep. River Medway, previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, delivers a brilliantly airheaded Ariel who sings her heart out about her… insatiable desires. A few cast members were not able to perform last night due to sickness, but the understudies for Prince Eric (Jack Gray) and Grimsby (Corrina Buchan) stepped into their roles and delivered performances that would make even King Triton proud.

Directed by the talented Robyn Grant, Unfortunate is more than just a parody—it is a reclamation.

It takes the familiar story we all know and flips it on its head, giving Ursula and her band of sea creatures a chance to rewrite their own narrative.

With witty book and lyrics by Grant and Daniel Foxx, the show explores Ursula's backstory, revealing how she was framed and banished by Triton’s father, and why she actually stole Ariel's voice in exchange for three days to live as a human girl.


The vibrant colours, campy costumes by Abby Clarke, and inventive puppets and props create an underwater world that's as whimsical as it is wicked; the lighting and special effects work together to immerse you in Ursula's dark waters.

But it is not just the visuals that make the parody a must-see—it is the humour.

From clever references to consent and body positivity to sassy renditions of classic The Little Mermaid tunes like "Where the d*cks are” (originally “Part of your world”) there is never a dull moment.

And while the second half of the show loses some of the comedic momentum, it is still a refreshing take on a beloved tale that touches on themes yet to be fully explored by mainstream companies like Disney, such as celebrating being plus-size, and happy endings for LGBTQ+ characters. The critique to Disney is present in the show and not even so subtle—the song “We didn’t make it to Disney”, sung by all those sea creatures too ugly to be featured in Disney products, says it all.


Image provided by Aberdeen Performing Arts

In the end, Unfortunate is everything you could want in a musical parody and more. It is quirky and clever, with a cast that's as talented as they are hilarious. So, grab your tickets and prepare to be swept away by the magic of Ursula’s untold story. Just remember to leave your voice at the door—the sea witch might just steal it.




 

Tickets in Aberdeen are on sale at aberdeenperformingarts.com until Saturday 16th, starting at £15.

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