Writer, Lyrics & Director: Poppy Burton-Morgan
Music: Matt Devereaux
Choreographer: Laura Kriefman
Reviewer: Francesca Parker
After the success of Metta Theatre’s, The Jungle Book, the hype surrounding their latest work was tangible and the performance eagerly anticipated. The Little Mermaid – Circus Spectacular had finally arrived at a relatively full house at Exeter Northcott as part of their UK tour.
The production follows the original tale almost exactly, with only a couple of minor changes that help to keep the audience guessing. After longing to step foot on dry land, Little’s dream is made a reality, but at the same time her future love, the Prince, is desperate to be released from his bond to responsibility and the land. The lovers are brought together by a raging storm and their destiny begins to unfurl. Is the price that Little pays too much, or can love conquer all?
As an amalgamation of music, circus, dance, and song it had the potential to be a spellbinding production. However, on this occasion, it was felt as though the cast were stretched beyond their comfort zone; making for somewhat uncomfortable viewing.That is not to say that the cast was weak – undeniably, each performer had their strength. But the fact that some were talented musicians, others strong but flexible gymnasts, and others who were seemingly more suited to a well-made play, did not allow for great stage chemistry. In some instances their interactions were unwieldy, nor was there an actor/actress who had mastered all elements. The attention of the audience seemed to waver and those who remained captivated throughout the performance were predominantly children.
Admittedly, there were moments of brilliance. Particularly memorable was when the Prince (Matt Knight) plummets from dizzy heights into the arms of other gymnasts – an audible gasp and applause erupted spontaneously from the audience. Sadly, these marvels did not continue throughout. The music was reminiscent of a bygone era and the repetitive discords could almost be described as unpleasant. Similarly, the lyrics were somewhat grinding, and by telling the story so clearly (almost painfully obviously) it seemed that the production’s target audience was children.
William Reynolds’ creation of set and use of props helped to redeem this production. The use of height and width stretched the stage, making the audience aware of the vast and immense scale of the sea. The floors reflective qualities imitated that of the ocean in the moonlight, allowing the characters to slip seamlessly from land to sea. The effective use of light also helped to immerse the audience in the depths of the ocean.
Overall this production was at best entertaining for infrequent theatregoers and children. Perhaps, Metta Theatre stretched themselves a ‘Little’ too far this time.
Runs until 28th April 2018 | Image: Robert Day