Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid, Edinburgh International Festival

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by guest critic Tom Brocklehurst

The Hub has got its glad rags on for this one!

Meow Meow’s return to Edinburgh (now part of the International Festival, dontcha know!) is as spangly, feisty and marvellous as anyone might expect. This time she’s taking on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. And please, nobody mention the Jamaican crab.

Meow Meow has been entertaining Edinburgh audiences for nearly 10 years now, and her popular shtick remains the same – gorgeous covers, brilliantly frightening audience
interaction (“SCHELL! I always find people do what you say if you yell at them in German”) and usually some choreographed chaos.

True to form, we get a city council inspector stopping the show thirty minutes in ‘to check over the special effects’. This prompts a bout of introspection from Meow, bringing up the evening’s themes of the impossibility of fairy-tale love. She brings on her fantasy man. “What are you wearing?” she screeches. “I don’t know, you dressed me”, he replies.

There are plenty of laughs to be had throughout the evening, and Meow is on form as she
covers Black’s ‘Wonderful Life’ and (sumptuously) Radiohead’s ‘Fake Plastic Trees’. Her
audience work is hysterical as ever, requisitioning gorgeous boys from the audience to be her on-stage furniture, and flirting outrageously with various older gentlemen in the front row.

This is a great evening’s entertainment, and Meow plucks some food for thought from
Anderson’s tale: the mermaid’s sacrifice of her voice is reflective of all women biting their tongue to make headway in male-dominated parts of society. Meanwhile, the other theme from Mermaid – unrealistic ideals of love – finds many parallels with today’s Instagram image-projection culture.

It’s a shame that she doesn’t dive a little deeper into the feminist ideas behind the story –
she is clearly too busy trying to make sure we are all having a good time.

Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid runs through 27 August.

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