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W.S. Jenks & Son

Remaining Performances (tickets available here):

Saturday, July 18 at 6:00 p.m.
Friday, July 24 at 9:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 25 at 10:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 26 at 5:00 p.m.

They say: The Little Mermaid of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale. Strange puppets, live music, dance and projections will transport you to the bottom of the sea in this complex and dark story of love and sacrifice.

Erica’s Take: In Death and the Mermaid, three actors take on the task of telling Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid with a few props, a projector, live musical accompaniment, and puppets. Much is left to the imagination in this stripped-down representation, directed by Carol Spring, which incorporates interpretive dance, puppeteering, and spoken dialogue. The result is at times beautiful in its visual simplicity, but at times confusing due to the various ways the story is told.

There are no surprises as far as the story itself goes: it follows a young mermaid (Taylor Robinson) who becomes enamored with a prince and his human world. She goes to the sea witch to exchange her voice for a potion that will make her human. But in order to remain human and have a soul, she must win the love of the Prince (Adrian Iglesias) or she will die and turn to sea foam.

Despite the familiar plot, the play’s nonlinear structure kept me guessing. Actors switched back and forth between puppets, dancing and spoken dialogue. Iglesias (also the Sea Witch) and Aniko Olah (the Sun, the Princess, and the Sea Witch) each played multiple characters and had a few awkward transitions.

There are some truly beautiful moments, however. When the little mermaid learns to walk, I was transfixed by Robinson’s movements: Her whole body performs. The puppets representing the magical creatures were nicely crafted. The sea witch was—pardon my jargon—pretty baddass. And musician Penny Russell was a delightful companion to the actors, perfectly setting the mood for each scene with her flute, her drum, her marimba, and her guiro.

Death and the Mermaid succeeds in doing a lot with very little, but ultimately fails to feel like a cohesive unit. The parts, however, are entertaining, interesting, and definitely stir the imagination.

See it if: You want to exercise your imagination and don’t mind being in a state of confusion.

Skip it if: You’re looking for a puppet show… or a dance show… or a musical.

Image courtesy of HalfMad Theatre