Review: Urinetown: The Musical, by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman, Gallery Players, Sir John Mills Theatre, until April 8
PUBLISHED: 09:15 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:15 31 March 2017
Urinetown, a musical which has its roots in fringe theatre, imagines a future where water is so scarce that paying for a pee is only way to control the masses and their out of control squandering of the earth’s resources.
This is a show with both powerful messages and huge sense of playfulness that, in true Brechtian style, wakes us up from the escapism that most musicals offer by never letting us forget we are watching a show.
Helen Clarke’s direction pulls this fascinating show together with pace and imagination. The ensemble of the “Poor” are clearly defined, even down to the individual ways they queue to pee in this world of the not too distant future.
Bronte Fletcher as Little Sally has a strong voice and presence throughout. Zoe Ransome as Hope, the daughter of the Caldwell B Caldwell- the baddie owner of the corporation- is delightfully comic as she pastiches the musical heroine, as is Martin Leigh as her father who personifies the evil and uncaring capitalist in the hilarious “Don’t Be Bunny” number.
The set, designed by Mali Roberts, is a detailed, dirty vision of a society that has fallen apart. Urban at its most ugly, the public toilet itself, that most of the drama of the first half centres on, is as grim as any you may have experienced. And it is not hard to empathise with how desperate the characters on stage must be – especially when we quickly discover that using the great outdoors is prohibited by law and punishable by death.
Urinetown is a clever and funny musical and is an impressive choice for the Gallery Players, which illustrates their commitment to a diverse programme of theatre.