Litle Mermaid at the egg, Bath Theatre Royal

DISNEY might have been the original inspiration for Bea Rob­erts’ new version of Little Mer­maid. But the mesmerising show this Christmas at the egg, Bath Theatre Royal’s dedicated children’s performance space, is a world away from the sentim­en­tal blockbuster.

The award-winning playwright has incorporated the story of the Selkie and the legend of the Mer­maid of Zennor into this inven­tive and delightful show, on until 14th January.

Morgan the mermaid princess is fed up with the restrictions placed on her and her sisters by their authoritarian grandmother. She wants adventure. She wants to swim up to the human world.

Aided by her aunt, she makes the ascent, thoroughly warned of the perils she could face. And hey-presto she’s in Torquay, in the 1980s.

There she meets the party set, and rapidly discovers that a vacuous toff on land is much like a vacuous merman under the sea. She also meets Ronan, who she recognises as a Selkie, and together they bemoan the problems of being different.

But time is running out for our heroine as the scales begin to grow on her legs, just at the moment granny issues a new decree that prevents her return to the deep.

This all calls for desperate measures. And it’s time for a sea change in the ocean.

The designs by Zoe Squire transform the intimate egg stage into an undersea world, beaches and night­clubs, with performers app­ear­ing in the water and on land.

Anna Wheatley is a spirited Morgan, whose soul mate is not a human male but a girl, Laura, played by Georgia Frost, who was a memorable Bottom the Weaver with Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before her graduation in the summer.

Bath native Emile Clarke is the stylish and camp Ronan, and Timothy O’Hara the brainless toff Hugo. Jordan Whyte’s grandmother finally realises she must move with the times, but it’s too late for Caroline Garland’s aunt Eloise, victim of an earlier storm.  Meghan Treadway’s Celeste is perhaps the luckiest mer-sister.

The show is aimed at children and their families, and its message is of tolerance and open-mindedness, though some of the boys in the morning audience were a bit resistant to romance.

This Needles and Pins production is a joy for all who want a non-pantomimic Christmas show.


Photographs by Nick Spratling

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