“This isn’t your destiny, child”
There aren’t enough shows that reveal Britney Spears’ songs to be the motivational life lessons that they are. And likewise culturally, we’ve ignored the very real warnings that the seer-like Anastasia gave us. Fortunately, Holly&Ted are here to right these wrongs in Pond Wife, a loose reimagining of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid through the prism of ’90s pop music, a ton of glitter and a multi-purpose bath-tub.
In its best moments, this is a fabulously funny and wittily constructed show that purloins lyrical pearls and truisms from pretty much every pop act on the Now 44 album. It is so dazzlingly done that by the time you’ve gigglingly worked out where one snippet comes from, you’ve missed the next two and combined with the high camp of our mermaid’s journey to break through the ‘glass ceiling’ of the sea into a human world stuffed full of pop music for her to discover for the first time, it is cheering stuff.
Once she does her deal with Ursula/Anastasia/Ted to swap her mermaid’s tail (loved those scales!) for a pair of legs and meets a pop singer called Lucky (she’s a star…), the storytelling loses a little of its ingenuity – an introduction to the different forms of music notwithstanding (poor Norah Jones) – extended dance routines don’t quite cut it and the marine biology twist maybe takes itself a little too seriously, given the glittery extravagance of the opening sequences. It’s still sparklingly good-natured fun though.