A reimaging of The Little Mermaid through 90s pop music? This I had to see. Holly&Ted’s Pond Wife was on for a few performances at the Old Fire Station, and so off I went, not knowing what to expect.
Told by Holly Norrington, Teddy Lamb, and a bath tub, this fairy-tale has no handsome prince. Instead Holly Norrington’s mermaid is one who wants to break through the ocean’s surface, also known as the glass ceiling, and just listen to music. Laden with pop culture references – my favourites being the perfect replica of Ross and Monica’s dance routine from Friends and the wicked sea witch speech constructed solely of cheesy song lyrics – and with a soundtrack of a Now album, it makes for an enjoyable 45 minutes.
Pond Wife is not a ground-breaking show, but it doesn’t want to be, or need to be. Instead it’s a charmingly silly way of introducing old stories to a younger audience, sprinkled with enough racy jokes to keep the grown-ups chuckling. What I admired most is the imagination involved – our mermaid swims through a sea of glitter and tinsel, strewn across the stage by a fan, whilst a mermaid tail is a skirt covered in broken CDs. When it comes to family shows, I feel that all styles of theatre are equally good, and the wider the range of shows kids see, the better. Children in the audience of Pond Wife can go home knowing that if they want to tell a story or put on a play, they don’t need a fancy set, complicated tech, or an ambitious script; instead, they can just tell it in whichever way they want to.