Photo credit: Andrew Perry
Urinetown: The Musical, a story of revolution in a farcical land where people live under the rule of corporation ‘Urine Good Company’. This is a bizarre tale of civilians who must pay to use public bathrooms – the only facilities available. After much research on the production, it promised to be exciting with its history of 3 Tony Awards and many nominations. However, the script leaves much to be desired with writing that is coy to the point of irritating, crudity that has strong undertones of sexism, and one liners that relied upon delivery more than their content.
The state of the script alone would make it a 3 star show, but Madeleine Flint and her production team managed to create a performance that exceeded the limitations of the script. She took the crass comedy and turned it into a laugh out loud, highly energetic show that left people grinning at many a moment.
Stand out performances must be acknowledged and the talent was certainly present amongst the cast. The ensemble may have had a few loose lines during their dances however Flint’s efforts to bring out every single individual character did not go amiss.
Nitai Levi’s Bobby Strong and Eleanor Crowe’s Hope Cladwell could have had louder vocals but their chemistry was wonderful. Sarah Couper’s Penelope Pennywise, Douglas Stephenson’s Officer Lockstock and Rachael Beaty’s Little Sally had strong characterisation and most certainly carried the performance at times. Moreover, the secondary roles were endearing with Fraser Mycroft and Andrew Hay standing out as memorable faces who never failed to leave the audience smiling.
The songs may not have been that catchy, but Stephen Segaud’s fantastic harmonies reflected his detailed efforts to ensure well-pitched performances. Sarah Lamb’s highly commendable dance numbers brought another level of energy to the characters. Paying homage, for example, to Busby Berkeley, ‘West Side Story’, jazz and even ‘Swan Lake’ that, for a musical lover such as myself, bringing amusement to the audience.
However, one of the greatest parts of the show was the set, costume and technical design. From the detailed pipes painted onto a sturdy set of podiums, to the stunning lighting, the production team went above and beyond the call of duty. The LED ‘U’ on the stage and the portable, public amenity were perfect additions to the very well thought-out design. Furthermore, the aesthetic of these designs fit well with the detailed costumes that created a deeply effective image throughout the show.
Despite the major pitfalls of the script, the team and cast have put on an effective musical piece that successfully satirises the genre itself and never fails to leave the audience laughing and smiling as they leave the auditorium.