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Unfortunate at The Lowry

Unfortunate at The Lowry

FEB 2024

In the unveiling of The Little Mermaid in 1989, Disney conveniently neglected to acknowledge Ursulas striking resemblance to the audacious drag icon Divine.

Instead of paying homage to Divines legacy, Disneys portrayal of Ursula seemed more like a callous jest, further adding to the companys repertoire of queer-coded antagonists during a period marked by widespread LGBTQ+ discrimination, both on and off the screen. Forward 35 years later and enter Unfortunate, a whimsical musical parody that has surged in popularity since its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is currently at The Lowry Salford.

Having experienced the production first-hand, the descriptors that spring to mind are chaotic, bonkers, and filthy. Yet, I employ these terms in a thoroughly positive light!

Unfortunate challenges theatrical norms by portraying Ursula as more than just a villain defined by her size, but as a character with depth, intelligence, and emotional resonance. Directed by Robyn Grant, the motley crew of oceanic characters, left my face aching with laughter and joy as they reshaped Disneys narrative with a sprinkle of camp and offered a fresh perspective on beloved characters and their untold tales.

Visually stunning, the production dazzles with Abby Clarke’s exceptional set, costume, and puppet design. As Ursella, Shawna Hamic (Orange is the New Black) is radiant and commanding, infusing her with both power and fury, while River Medway (RuPauls Drag Race UK) plays Ariel fabulously with a airheaded and rather smutty charm. Thomas Lowe charms as the ultimate himbo Triton, while Jamie Mawson brings hilarity to the role of Eric. However, it’s Allie Dart who steals the spotlight with her captivating multi-rolling skills and magnetic stage presence.

The first act is perhaps a little overstuffed, but the casts boundless energy and campy delight keep the show engaging. The show triumphantly celebrates diversity, recognising the power and complexity of individuals beyond stereotypes and with songs such as “Ask The Girl” and “We Didn’t make it to Disney”, produces very cleaver nods to the issue of sexual consent, body fascism and lookism.

With its blend of cheeky cabaret and adult pantomime, Unfortunate celebrates LGBTQ+ representation and offers the queer ending audiences have long deserved.

I suspect in further iterations this production will be much bigger and will be turned into a huge west end production, so catch this smaller and more intimate version while you can!

Unfortunate runs at The Lowry, Quays Theatre until 2nd March.

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Dean Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Media

Published: 24-Feb-2024 (7396)

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