Review Roundup: West End's URINETOWN
Urinetown, the musical, runs at The St James Theatre until 3 May 2014, starring Marc Elliott (EastEnders/The History Boys/Tape) as Mr. McQueen, Richard Fleeshman (Ghost/Legally Blonde/Coronation Street) as Bobby Strong, Simon Paisley Day (Sherlock/Musketeers/Timon Of Athens) as Caldwell B. Cladwell, Jenna Russell (Merrily We Roll Along/Sunday In The Park With George/Guys And Dolls) as Penelope Pennywise, Jonathan Slinger (Hamlet/The Tempest/Yes, Prime Minister) as Officer Lockstock and is directed by Jamie Lloyd (The Commitments, Macbeth, The Hothouse, The Pride) at the St James Theatre.
URINETOWN, the musical, has music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann and book and lyrics by Greg Kotis and is produced by Julian Stoneman Associates and The Araca Group. The production is designed by Evening Standard award winnerSoutra Gilmour with choreography by Ann Yee, lighting design by Adam Silverman, sound design by Terry Jardine &Nick Lidster, orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin, wig & hair design by Richard Mawbey, fight direction by Kate Watersand musical supervision & direction by Alan Williams.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Spencer, Telegraph: The show keeps springing surprises to the end, and rigorously eschews the sentimental happy ending the cunning story line seems to be promising. Indeed the off-putting title strikes me as the only serious misjudgement of this darkly entertaining and exceptionally sharp show.
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: While all the technical excellence cries out for a bigger stage, the writing strikes me as schizophrenic. It switches between angst about the environment and sneering brashness, or between pessimism and ecstasy. Yet it's impossible to deny the originality of this crowd-pleaser, and if you like your musicals bold and a bit Brechtian then - to make the sort of obvious pun that the show itself savours - urine for a treat.
Michael Billington, Guardian: The mere presence of RSC star Jonathan Slinger as the buttonholing cop, looking like Richard III in a fascist mac, gives the proceedings an air of menace. Simon Paisley Day brings his formidable height and a towering rage to the role of the toilet tycoon. Jenna Russell, brandishing a cigarette as if it were a lethal weapon, is very funny as the ferocious guardian of the urinals. And Richard Fleeshman and Rosanna Hyland play the romantic leads with the right air of self-conscious absurdity. Soutra Gilmour's excellent designs also bring a touch of Piranesi to the world of underground pissoirs.
Micheal Coveney, Whatsonstage: So while the end result is highly impressive, it does not invite any kind of warmth or delight in the audience. It's so busy sending up conventions of both Brecht and Broadway that it forgets to reveal its own true purpose then tries to redeem itself by disowning the habit of idealism and granting Cladwell the economic and political high ground in the effectiveness of his tyranny. Freedom's a chimera and rebellion so much pissing in the wind.
Quentin Letts, Daily Mail: Is there a good musical to be made about public lavatories? Probably not. But is there a good musical to be written about larcenous corporations and public unrest and brutalist regimes? You bet. Ironic young Americans are perhaps not the people to nail the truth. Ukrainian artists might have sharper insights.
Photo Credit: Johan Persson