Wednesday, 15 October 2014
Urinetown the Musical
There are a lot of musicals out there in theatreland. A lot. So it is becoming increasingly difficult to make one stand out from the crowd. They all follow a reasonably similar structure in terms of plot and musical numbers; they all have similarly cheesy lines and actions and they all have a happy ending. But Urinetown the Musical manages to add it's own unique edge to the regular format.
Most enticingly this occurs due to the character of Officer Lockstock being aware that he is in a musical. At points, he stops the show to explain what is going on to the audience and to the youngest character, Little Sally. This is quite a daring move as there is a danger of destroying the flow of the musical and the spoilers he offers could have a negative effect on the audience. However, in this musical, it does seem to work and it allows the characters to (excuse the pun but I had to do it at least once) take the piss out of themselves and the musical that they realise they are acting within.
And yes, it is how it sounds - the musical is principally about peeing. A little unsophisticated for a west end musical but it is entertaining all the same. The basic premise of the plot (set in a fictional futuristic version of the world where there has been a 20 year drought) is that the water has been depleted to such a serious level that private bathrooms have been banned in an effort to save the little amount of water they still have. Which means the characters have to pee in disgusting and expensive public amenities controlled by the corrupt Urine Good Company. Until a young and very handsome lead, Bobby Strong (played by the equally good looking Matthew Seadon-Young) decides to rebel after his father is exiled to the mysterious Urinetown for breaking the law by peeing in the street. And then all hell breaks loose, enabling the excitement of the musical to start.
The title Urinetown the Musical has caused a little trouble for those selling the tickets, or so I've read, and there has been talk of changing it. If Urinetown was simply the town in which the characters lived, I would probably agree with them. But it is so much more than that...it is the shadow of threat which overhangs the characters constantly, forcing them to follow the oppressive government with very little complaint. So it is only fitting that it hangs over the musical as well, consistently hovering in the background.
I did say that Urinetown the Musical is unsophisticated but that is the exterior which the writers have purposefully (and very cleverly) put in the forefront. Beneath that, it has a resonance of Animal Farm about it (you will see what I mean when you go to see it) and is a very cynical look at the political world that despite being fictional, could potentially become a reality.
And Urinetown understands how real this crisis actually is in certain parts of our world. Therefore they are now supporting water.org, a leading charity which looks for developing solutions to the very present water crisis. Next Monday 20th October, Urinetown are putting on a charity gala to announce this collaboration and proceeds from the gala (as well continued support for the rest of its run) will be going to this valuable charity. For more information and to book tickets make sure you visit http://www.urinetown.co.uk/gala.php - not only will you have a brilliant night, I can assure you, but you will also be helping people where the fictional crisis of the musical is very much a reality.
(photos courtesy of Urintetown the Musical)