top of page

Unfortunate | The Lowry

After a wave of critically acclaimed reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Unfortunate sailed the length and breadth of the country on its first UK tour in 2022. Now, from the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean, Ursula’s back- and this time she’s bigger, bolder and sexier than ever before!


In this time of Disney live-action mania, we’ve seen multiple villains have their chance to flip the narrative and give the audience a porthole into their side of the story: First Maleficent, then Cruella- it’s only right that the sea witch have her moment to turn the tides on the well-known tale of ‘The Little Mermaid’ that we have all grown to know and love. But this ain’t no fairy tale… Unfortunate is a camp, brash musical theatre parody with its tentacles placed firmly in its cheeks and fabulous tunas, sorry- tunes, thrown in for good measure.


With book and lyrics by Robyn Grant and Daniel Foxx and expert direction from Grant, Ursula gets the Wicked treatment, and we find out what really happened before Ariel dropped in. Music from Tim Gilvin gives subtle nods to the soundtrack etched in our minds and takes the audience on a nostalgic trip whilst keeping the songs current. The parody has the right balance of themes throughout, maintaining politic correctness but exuding self-love. Panto-esque at times- without the need for audience participation. (Though it didn’t stop some patrons from trying to join in, this didn’t deter the cast from their commanding performances.)


Shawna Hamic leads the production as our misunderstood villain and is a force to be reckoned with. With her powerhouse vocals and unapologetic stage presence, Hamic gives audiences the camp of the Ursula we’re familiar with whilst playing tribute to the late drag icon, Divine, of whom the character was based- albeit taking the role back for the queer community from Disney (who went through an era of queer coding their villains.) Hamic is a joy to watch and exudes star power throughout.


Donning the red wig and fishtail as jelly-headed Ariel is Drag Race UK contestant, River Medway who taps into her Snatch Game character of Amy Childs but with horniness aplenty and gives Ariel’s beautiful voice a new dimension… Medway hams up every opportunity and has the audience slapping their tentacles throughout.


The rest of the ensemble hold their own throughout and impressively switch characters at the drop of a pan lid. Allie Dart shines throughout as Sebastian et al with her immense versatility and sacrebleu, what a performance during ‘Les Poissons’. Thomas Lowe stamps his trident on the role of Triton, with powerful vocals and exaggerated thrusting hips which only add to the comedy of it all. His scenes with Hamic are pure magic and their duets are reminiscent of a power ballad’s music video.


As with the rest of the show, the set has had a major glow-up with design by Abby Clarke- also responsible for costume and puppet design. A stagnant but aesthetically pleasing set which gives the cast the chanceto make use of the entire stage, rafters included… Costumes take camp to a new level with harnesses and fluorescent leotards (and who knew you could find a bunch of mopheads so cute whilst rooting for a cucumber?) Pay particular attention to the writing on the tombstones in Act 2; the audience erupted with laughter.


Adam King’s lighting design is gloriously bold throughout, taking us on land and ‘under the sea’ effortlessly- particular highlights during scenes in Ursula’s lair.


It's no surprise that this is an unapologetic, middle finger to Disney and is not for the faint-hearted. With f-bombs aplenty, it was unsurprising to see some older patrons leaving during the interval. (A word to the wise- always look carefully at what you’re booking…) There is nothing unfortunate about Unfortunate and it's guaranteed to leave you wet… with tears of laughter.


Unfortunate is currently playing at the Lowry, Salford until March 2nd before continuing its tour. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.



AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Pamela Raith.


bottom of page