Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Birth of the Unicorn Mermaid - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Unicorn Mermaids do not exist. Or do they? Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Birth of the Unicorn Mermaid proves that mythical creatures can be real…well, sort of. As Ophelia Sols throws the baby shower to end all baby showers, ideals of motherhood, and what makes a good mother or a bad mother begin to surface.

After being on a diet of sugar, salt and glitter Ophelia Sol (Ruby Hughes) is ready to give birth to the first ever Unicorn Mermaid. She can finally show up all her friends by having the most unique and talented child that anyone has (and will) ever set their eyes on. But first thing’s first: she needs to throw the best ever baby shower.

While firmly set in the real world, Hughes adds an element of bizarreness with the inclusion of how Ophelia becomes pregnant and the science behind her efforts. While we scoff at her out-there plan, there is conviction in Ophelia’s theory so it ends up feeling highly probably that it will work. This combining of two different realities works quite well in setting the scene and the environment.

However, the story itself seems to get stuck as it ends up focusing more on how great this baby will be rather than trying to go inside Ophelia’s frame of mind and learn more about her reasons why. She comes across as vain and spiteful and we never get more than a glimpse of her insecurities to be able to connect with her more and understand why she is doing this.

 
The story fast-forwards soon after the birth, where we are introduced to her daughter who relays what it’s like to be growing up when you’re a little bit different to everyone else. By splitting the story between the two characters in a 50 minute show, The Birth of the Unicorn Mermaid spreads itself too thin as the characters are not given the time to fully develop. Focusing on one of the characters – preferably Ophelia – and going deeper into her insecurities and fears would have allowed for a more biting commentary on society and the concept of who/what a mother is and should be.

Hughes has an outrageously great character in Ophelia and there are laughs to be had with her and with The Birth of the Unicorn Mermaid but if it wants to be something more important and memorable, then it needs to work on whose story this is and what the story is.



Show Information 

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne 
Season: until 1 October | Mon - Sun 8:30pm 
Length: 50 minutes 
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc 
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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