With a terrible title, something that the writers are keen to point out, Urinetown is the anti-musical- musical and it’s bloody brilliant.
Fresh, or slightly dank from its initial run at the more intimate St James Theatre in Victoria, Urinetown is back, stinkier and grimier than ever, in what is sure to be a West End hit. It has all the essentials; boy meets girl story, an evil dictator, pee jokes, a few gay romps here and there and blood… Yes as the characters say: not every musical has a happy ending.
Set somewhere in time, the world suffers a massive water shortage and people are forbidden to pee anywhere else than at public facilities, for a fee. The action for this musical happens at amentity number 9, where society’s most poor are ill able to afford the tax on their morning ablutions – and they revolt against the conglomerate corporation, UGC (Urine Good Company) who own all the facilities and have a strong history of ‘lobbying’ the legislators for tax hikes, and they go about bringing on a new world of hope and dreams. But does it work out?
It’s dark. The comedy is almost midnight it’s so dark, but brilliantly observed. The show is a master of breaking the fourth wall. A lot, which provides many of the comic moments as we delve deep into the sewer system, expertly created with lighting and sound design by Adam Silverman, Terry Jardine and Nick Lidster. The sets and costume, designed by Soutra Gilmour were also perfect in its role to bring you down to the level of the show.
A mention must be made for the cast, all of whom, without exception were incredible. Leading the cast was the hunky, superman-esque Matthew Seadon-Young, who leads the battle to pee freely. Perfectly placed against his fresh energy was the effortlessly corrupt Simon Paisley-Day as Caldwell B. Cladwell, owner of the mighty UGC. If you’re ever looking for the archetypical evil villain, Paisley-Day is your man. His daughter played by Rosanna Hyland, make Snow White look like someone on the verge of a breakdown, was pure as the driven yellow covered snow. Karis Jack, as Sally the young girl, was brilliantly tongue in cheek along with Jonathan Slinger as Officer Lockstock who moved the story on so effortlessly with their knowing banter. Although small, the ensemble cast made for an impressive sight – half extras from the chorus line of Les Miserable, half loveable puppets from Avenue Q. Energy and enthusiasm abound. Each and every cast member has their own individually crafted personality, which makes finding your scene stealer a fun activity during the slick big numbers.
Reservations: the music isn’t as strong as other dark, adult comedies in its field, its no Avenue Q, Jerry Springer or Shoes, and you might leave the theatre without being able to hum a tune, but you will leave quoting lines and having had a good laugh.
What it lacks in musical prowess it makes up in heart, soul and laughs. It’s a musical that doesn’t take itself too seriously; in fact it takes the piss. (pun intended).