The Little Mermaid
By Houston Sinclair
Blue Room Theatre
Review: David Zampatti
The earlier of the Blue Room’s current Scandinavian double feature is a tricky, erotically charged inversion of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Little Mermaid. The later show is the powerful, neurotic Hedda, also reviewed at thewest.com.au.
In the original, much- bowdlerised Andersen story, a mermaid suffers horrible pain and eventually abandons her life for the love of a prince who loves to watch her dance but takes another to his bed.
In this version, the mermaid (Jacinta Larcombe) is a teenage girl in an Australian coastal town. She’s a castaway in the small society around her. Her only company, apart from her mother (Georgia King), is the picture of Leonardo DiCaprio above her bed. Then she meets a boy (Ben Gill) who befriends her and invites her to his party. In return, she takes him down to the sea.
Her mother wants to relive her belle-of-the-ball youth vicariously through her daughter but when reminiscence becomes all-too-solid flesh, the consequences are heartbreaking and tragic.
The Little Mermaid is a side project for the writer, actor and director Ian Sinclair, whose Wet Weather Ensemble has delivered some of the best alternative theatre here in recent times.
Like Wet Weather’s brilliant Adam and Eve, this show takes material that is deeply embedded in the collective consciousness and re-imagines it in our cultural vernacular. The result is invigorating and coherent.
Larcombe is stunning as the mermaid, her dancing a real highlight, and Gill makes the boy both ordinary and far from it in a finely nuanced performance.
King gives her best performance since her tour de force in Scent Tales a couple of years ago. In that show (which is returning in October for a regional tour and should not be missed) she played four generations of women in one family and she again convincingly plays out of her age here. She has the rare ability to make extended monologues fly and it’s great to see her again working with material that does her great talent justice.
I’m a devotee of The Blue Room double and this is a good opportunity to do it. At only 50 minutes or so, The Little Mermaid is a savoury rollmop entree, leaving you a good half hour in Perth’s best theatre bar before you attack the main meat of Hedda.
The Little Mermaid runs until September 7. Hedda runs until Saturday.