Metta Theatre‘s production of Little Mermaid is a skilled and exciting portrayal of the Hans Christian Anderson tale we all know and love. The circus skills of the cast are breath-taking and tell the story perfectly. The irony is — what Little Mermaid really doesn’t need in this production is a voice.
While the cast sing well, it’s clear their collective strength is in their movement, and the vast majority of the tunes are grating and over-expositional. The words rather get in the way of the story, and it’s a shame, given the fantastic acrobatic skills that fill the stage with a magically unusual quality. Adaptor and director Poppy Burton-Morgan has done a great job bringing the show to life, and the cast are certainly very talented, but the lyrics distract. I don’t really think the new genre of ‘Circus Musical’ is for me — circus? Sure, let’s dive right in.
Tilly Lee-Kronick is lovely as Little, as is Josh Frazer as Seawitch and Matt Knight as Prince. They don’t create characters the audience can empathise with, but I don’t think the script/lyrics leave much room for that. Instead, we marvel at their skill and elegance, which is a treat in itself.
From beautifully choregraphed circus tricks through to almost poetic dance segments, the show is a visual treat. I’m not a fan of the leotards that cover most of the cast, but costumes such as the Seawitch’s are wonderfully strange.
It surprised me to see so many children in the audience yet, on reflection, this is a perfectly family friendly show. However, some of the more deeper points may have been lost on younger children, and the titter of laughter that ripples the room when the Prince sheds his shirt for a bright leotard shows some of the ‘points’ the show tries to make are lost in the noise and extravagance of the production.
All in all, it was an interesting night out and a fantastic way to introduce anyone, not just families, to live theatre and performance.
Catch Little Mermaid at York Theatre Royal until 7 April