Monday, 5 January 2015

Urinetown, Apollo Theatre, London

Matthew Seadon-Young (playing Bobby Strong) in Urinetown 
(Photo Credit: Johan Persson)
(Taken from

Urinetown, written by Greg Kotis and music composed by Mark Hollman, is a unique musical, set in a fictional future, where there is a long term drought in which water becomes scarce.  The public have to rely on pay per use public toilets to relieve themselves.  However as seen in the production those who pee elsewhere faces the risk of being taken away to Urinetown, a place of intrigue and mystery but also a place where one goes but never comes out.

This award winning Broadway musical raises a wide range of social and political messages with an emphasis on one's right to pee whether one can't afford it or not.  The story narrated with cues by Officer Lostock (played by Jonathan Sunger) with assistance from Little Sally (played by Karis Jack).

Urinetown has a loose love story between Hope Cladwell (played by Rosanna Hyland) and Bobby Strong (played by Matthew Seadon-Young) whose backgrounds could not have been more of contrast.  Social issues unanimously were raised with the fee increase for using the public amenities and many fight the right to use them for free which didn't go down well with the corrupt owner of Urine Good Company, Caldwell B. Cladwell (played by Phill Jupitus) and the authoritarian Penelope Pennywise (played by Vicki LeeTaylor) who runs the poorest and dirtiest urinal, Public Amenity No. 9.

Hollman's great musical numbers with catching lyrics tell the Urinetown tale and rising of its social issues with the disparity between the rich and the poor and evidence of greed and corruption. 

Jamie Lloyd perfectly directs Urinetown ensuring the social and political elements addressed are just as relevant today as in Urinetown.  The dark humour and tongue in cheek helps many adore this cynical, dark, surreal but amazing musical.  The staging and lighting designed by Soutra Gilmour and Adam Silverman gives Urinetown the dystopia feel which is appropriate for Urinetown and for its story.

The production received its UK premiere at St James Theatre in February and transferred to the West End, at the Apollo Theatre, in September 2014.  Sadly Urinetown has now closed in the West End but one can hope for a return or a tour at least.

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