WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

Critics find the magic in Bristol Old Vic's Little Mermaid

Bristol Old Vic's annual Christmas show The Little Mermaid opened last week for a run until the 18 January 2014. Adapted by Joel Horwood from the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale and directed by Royal Court associate Simon Godwin, it stars Katie Moore, Billy Howle, Beverly Rudd and Tristan Sturrock

John Campbell - WhatsOnStage - 4/5

Bristol Old Vic shows yet again that when it comes to children's shows it is almost peerless. Director Simon Godwin and adaptor Joel Horwood have fashioned a version that … provides a whiff of fear, a lot of laughter and a moving love story. The cast is outstanding … Katie Moore is an affecting and feisty Mermaid … Beverly Rudd almost steals the show as an eminently hissable Sea Witch … Billy Howle is very sympathetic as the diffident Prince, unsure of everything and far from being the master of his fate ... Jon Bausor's extraordinary design is one of the stars of the show … Godwin's direction shows a sure touch … the BOV has another it on its hands.

Lyn Gardner - The Guardian - 3/5

The world of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale is not a happy one … Jon Bausor's design is cleverly conceived … There is plenty to enjoy, including lots of panto-style wickedness from Beverly Rudd's villainous Sea Witch, a rusty armour-suited crab, and a lively musical soundtrack that ranges from beat box to mandolin. There's also a poignant examination of parental helplessness from Tristan Sturrock … The show's very good on all-consuming teenage passion, too, although it has to tie itself in narrative knots to achieve a happy ending And why is it that this year in Christmas-show land all bright, passionate, headstrong girls are doomed to marry wimpy men they'll have to mother?

Matt Trueman - The Telegraph - 3/5

The Little Mermaid is a magical hybrid pulled in several different directions …There's so much to admire, but in the end its various elements refuse to cohere ... despite a last-gasp happy ending that allows for a fairytale royal wedding, they steer clear of Disneyfied schmaltz for a mostly melancholic tone. There's such pain and heartache here and Horwood's script draws it out delicately … Moore and Howle make a perfect fairy tale couple. Yet earthier, bawdier elements … belong to a different show. Beverley Rudd's Sea Witch delivers cackling OTT villainy where the role needs needling darkness, while Kneehigh-style front-curtain work and panto-esque audience interaction sit awkwardly against the rest. You're left with the impression that romance and raucousness remain immiscible.

Jeremy Brien - The Stage

The Bristol Old Vic has teamed with beatboxer Shlomo and musician DJ Walde to create the underwater vocal world for this highly entertaining modern version of Hans Christian Andersen's much-loved fairytale. Director Simon Godwin and adaptor Joel Horwood have brought off, with aplomb, the challenging task of mixing the romantic and morality elements with such pantomime stalwarts as a highly hissable Sea Witch (Beverly Rudd) … They even get away with adding a feel-good ending … Katie Moore`s fetching Mermaid adds a glorious voice to her feisty determination in pursuit of love, while Billy Howle makes the royal object off her affection a rather more reticent figure. There is no holding back by Tristan Sturrock's master of ceremonies though, as the production slips back into pantomime mode.

Mark Taylor - Bristol Post - 4/5

Godwin steered this two-hour love story through uncharted waters with the help of skilful lighting, shimmering costumes and ingenious movement choreographed by the award-winning Toby Sedgwick … The tail-flapping mermaid, played with a perfect mix of innocence and world-weariness by Katie Moore … Beverly Rudd's colourful Sea Witch provided a pantomime element … Part fairytale, part musical, part pantomime (not to mention the beatboxing), The Little Mermaid certainly tries hard to cover all bases when it comes to a family-friendly Christmas show … ultimately the magic rises to the surface just like the enchanting mermaid herself.

- Kris Hallett