Meow Meow's Little Mermaid (3 stars)

Meow Meow's Little Mermaid

credit: Pia Johnson

The cabaret diva dives deeper into the subconscious

Meow Meow claims that this is a show about happiness, but it is equally about myths, self-delusion and the desire to sacrifice anything to achieve love. While the beautiful finale – in which a spectacular effect is finally fixed and provides a message about the need for self-reliance – speaks to an optimistic future, Meow's journey has been beset by confusion, darkness and the revelation of the horror beneath the elegant façade.

Surprisingly, it is not the show-stopping musical numbers that prove the cabaret superstar's intelligence, but the theatrical interludes: torn between love and misery, Meow Meow's charisma lends her monologues a brilliance that many of the songs fail to achieve. Indeed, the cabaret antics are predictable against her witty meditations on love.

She rigorously and humorously puts dreams of love to the test, and finds them wanting. When she slips on a pointe shoe and a high heel, her awkward movements become a symbol of how love can deform: flirtations with a handsome technician and the embodiment of her fantasies degenerate into desperation.

Yet her character – an ironic diva – does not always gel with the show's intentions: her famous crowd-surfing feels perfunctory, a nod to her past. More exciting than the new musical numbers, especially the early rock number which does not suit her persona or voice well, is the integration of the Little Mermaid into contemporary thoughts on the pursuit of perfection and love. At these points, her cabaret is placed at the service of eloquent critiques of modern myths.

The Hub, until 27 Aug (not 15, 22), 10.30pm, £15.

Meow Meow's Little Mermaid

  • 3 stars

Forget the Little Mermaid you thought you knew. Meow Meow’s subversive cabaret is a fairytale gone rogue. The legendary post-post-modern diva takes up residence in International Festival HQ for a festival-long run. Joined by a posse of DIY princes, she gives Hans Christian Andersen’s story of self-sacrifice, seduction…

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