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Review: Unfortunate at Newcastle Theatre Royal All images: Pamela Raith Photography
What's on
July 2024
Reading time 2 Minutes

We dive under the sea at Newcastle Theatre Royal…

Here's why we're still in shock after witnessing the chaos and craziness that is Unfortunate.

Despite being frequent visitors to Newcastle Theatre Royal, and seeing a variety of very different shows here, this is unlike anything that has ever graced its stage. It’s also the first time I’ve struggled to share my thoughts. Not because it isn’t a fantastic production – it really is! But this is the first time we’ve ever heard the C-word being bellowed across the stage (in fact the script and its hilariously imaginative songs are littered with swear words) – and we’re still in shock. I think the French chef Colette best describes what we witnessed in act two when she declares ‘that was f***ing mental!’

Unfortunate is a clever, funny musical parody allowing Ursula The Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid to tell her side of what really happened under the sea. Ursula embraces who she is, encouraging others to do the same. It brings together the irreverent humour of an Edinburgh Fringe show with the joy and wit of Drag to hilarious effect. There’s so much I’d like to tell you, none of which is what we’d usually share with Living North readers, but to give you a flavour of what you should brace yourself for we’ll just say that sexual innuendos are pushed to their limits (take the songs Where The D***s Are and Sucking On You, for example). There are totally unsubtle digs at Disney throughout and our absolute favourite is We Didn’t Make It To Disney, where the unique and imperfect (puppet) sea creatures finally have their moment to shine. 

The set is panto-esque with very little movement and whilst we’ve never been to an adult panto we imagine it’s a similar vibe. We are however big fans of Ru Paul’s Drag Race and River Medway (from the UK’s third season) brings all the humour you’d expect – and more – to Ariel. Had she chosen Ariel for her Snatch Game performance, she might’ve stood a chance of beating Krystal Versace to the crown! Either way, we loved seeing another member of Drag Race royalty on the Theatre Royal stage (following The Vivienne’s stellar performance as The Wicked Witch of The West earlier this year).

The costumes are so silly, but so well thought out, with particular attention to Urusla and Triton. Both Shawna Hamic and Thomas Lowe bring non-stop laughter to the packed-out audience. What’s particularly impressive about this cast is just how many roles they take on in such a high-energy show. Allie Dart is a characterful Irish Sebastian but she also plays Jetsam (one of Ursula’s sidekicks from he dark waters) and Colette (a feisty French chef who takes a shine to Ariel). It’s a masterclass of multi-role acting with constant accent and costume changes, and she never misses a beat. The same goes for Julian Capolei who never stands still. One second he’s the sea captain, next he’s Ursula’s sidekick, then he’s Ursula’s alter ego Vanessa (to entice Eric). His performance as a Kardashian-esque Vanessa with a statement moustache is genius but what’s even better is his lightning fast outfit change to return as sea captain in the next scene, proclaiming he’s ‘been here the whole time…’.

Without wishing to give to give too much away (you have to see to believe this chaos), this is an extremely adult show that certainly shouldn’t be taken seriously, but a welcome, camp, joyous watch that was welcomed with a roaring applause at Newcastle Theatre Royal. It’s refreshing to see such a different show, with such a buzzy atmosphere, at such a traditional theatre. If you love Drag, panto, Disney or you’re just up for a seriously good laugh, gather your friends and don’t miss Unfortunate.

The last few tickets remain to see Unfortunate at Newcastle Theatre Royal on 4th July. 

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