It’s tempting for me to write this review using as many tasteless puns as I can fit in. But I think I’ll hold off on that for now. Instead, I’ll share what was going through my mind as I watched Urinetown at the St James Theater …
“Right, so, okay, we’ve got a dystopian future here. Water shortage. Major tragedy as people are being extorted to use toilets as it’s no longer legal to have them at home. Um, but wait … nobody’s heard of a chamber pot? Oh god, this must have been written by Americans, right? Americans who believe in the God-given right to pee into huge quantities of water?
“Oh, look, now they’re ironically/post-modernically addressing the audience, actually talking about how to plot a musical and what they’re going to reveal in the second act. Pity they can’t get anywhere near the levels of irony of Starlight‘s ‘Poppa’s Blues.’ Oh, wait, God, so people are being brutalized by the police, so it’s supposed to be grim and funny and post-ironic? 1984 meets Thoroughly Modern Millie?
“But who would ever have wanted to see this thing? It’s not like it’s got really good songs or anything. Wait, is this actually a modern-day Springtime for Hitler? This show obviously was designed to be a flop! Who would want to pay to see a show that features people pissing on stage! It’s all a big joke!
“But wait, maybe it’s a big joke on me. I’m the one who paid full price for the ticket. On the other hand, I only paid 20 quid to sit here in the back row and I’m not really feeling bothered that I can’t see the heads of the people on the upper half of the set. Man, I can’t believe this was the same price I paid to see Finian’s Rainbow. Now there’s a show with some music.
“Heh, they got the joke about Urine Good Company. Hard not to make that one. But how come they missed making a joke about spending a penny? Oh yeah, American. And I can’t really say the producers pissed their money away because they certainly got in some talent to do this show. Rosanna Hyland, now she’s got some voice, great choice for the heroine. Jenna Russell, wow, I remember her from Merrily We Roll Along, she’s got pipes and is quite an actress, nice to see her again. And Richard Fleeshman? Is there really no reason for his character to take off his shirt? It would probably add another star to this show … Oh wait, interval, I bet there’s going to be a line for the toilets.”
“Right, somehow I made it back. It’s not wretched, right, I just am bored. Oh wait! Finally, a good song! And another one, one right after another! It almost makes up for … well, no it doesn’t. And people are really, really cheering. I guess they were desperate for something to like.
“Oh, god, finally, it’s all over. I guess the writers never read anything about composting toilets, either. Man, considering the way the utility companies screw over the citizens with the government’s blessing – saying they ought to “make less tea” or “share showers” to save energy, like staying warm in your house in the winter isn’t a matter of human rights – you’d think they could have made a really crisp, poignant show about corporate greed and government by the plutocracy. Instead, this show just feels stale and boring. But hey, at least I didn’t spend much on it, and I can get out the door quickly and go home.”
(This review is for a preview performance that took place on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014. Urinetown continues through May.)