This excellent, bleak musical about a dystopian future has a superb cast and plenty of pee-related puns.
Phill Jupitus takes the role of Caldwell B. Cladwell from Dec 1.
For a musical about how the human race is likely to wipe itself out very soon, ‘Urinetown’ is a whole lot of fun. Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis’s show (golden) showers the audience with pee-related puns and takes the piss out of its own love story with gritty bravado.
The musical is set in a dystopian future where municipal toilets are controlled by Urine Good Company and people are forced to pay to use the loo. When an uprising is led by handsome young toilet attendant Bobby Strong – who falls in love with Hope, daughter of the head of UGC – the town’s money-grabbing elite are shaken and everything the townsfolk knew begins to change.
‘Urinetown’ is an anti-musical. From the beginning, Jonathan Slinger’s sullen, snarling cop Officer Lockstock steps through the fourth wall to apologise for ridiculous plot oversights. Jamie Lloyd’s slick production plays heavily on these elements: wry appeals to the audience and comic-book double takes abound – it’s musicals themselves that are the source of much of the show’s satire.
Although there’s a lack of individual standout songs, the numbers are bold, big and best when the whole cast is singing. ‘It’s a Privilege to Pee’ is brilliantly rousing. The cheeky energy of soul-tinged ‘Run, Freedom, Run’ in the second half makes it one of the best tunes of the night.
Slinger is a highlight – his Cheshire Cat smile is horribly foreboding – and there’s much to love elsewhere in the cast. The great Jenna Russell is hilarious as toilet mistress Penelope Pennywise while the two lovers, Matthew Seadon-Young as Bobby and Rosanna Hyland as Hope, sing their numbers with pitch-perfect tongue-in-cheek humour.
Soutra Gilmour’s hulking designs are the height of sewer chic, but it’s Ann Yee’s robust, quirky and downright funny choreography that impresses most.
Copious amounts of dread heaped on at the end and a tendency to rush the plot cause the show to feel a little uneven. Nevertheless, I’d certainly recommend spending a penny (and more) on ‘Urinetown’.
Average User Rating
4.5 / 5
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This was tremendous fun - a real treat for anyone who's a fan of Book of Mormon or just intelligent, bleak satire wrapped up in a musical. I realise it's been knocking around for just over a decade, but it was incredibly fresh. Plus in comparison to recent new musicals I've seen (American Psycho and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) it actually had real tunes. You know, the ones you hum to yourself for the rest of the evening, like they used to make.
Perhaps it could have aimed to show off its depth a bit more, as it certainly had that potential. Though I wouldn't have wanted that at the expense of the pace and levity.
Absolutely BRILLIANT show! One of the most fresh things I have seen on in the West End in years. Extremely talented cast. EVERYONE should go and see this.
So I went into Urinetown with no real idea of what to expect. I'm not a fan of the unknown and am very sceptical of new shows. I came out of Urinetown speechless. Genuinely speechless. Urinetown is an absolute must-see for anyone who enjoys musical theatre. It pokes fun at itself, and at musical theatre in general, has a fantastic cast which work really well together, and has catchy songs that keep you hooked and tapping your feet from beginning to end. The only problem you'll have is describing it! It's the happiest unhappy musical you will ever see in your life. It was funny but had a very interesting story without going too deep and avoided becoming preachy or boring.
A completely original musical that everyone should see at least once!
I am not a musical fan as it is usually too cheesy / slow, but Urinetown is unexpected and surprises the audience. The whole cast sings and dances, it is witty and definitely not a fairy tale!
I went to see the Urinetown previews in Victoria, so when Time Out were doing a competition for free tickets I thought, "Why not? I enjoyed it enough the first time."
For some reason the second time was the charm, though. I'm not sure if it's knowing the songs ahead of time, the bigger venue & stage or the actors being more familiar but for whatever reason I have been singing along four or five songs all week. I always thought comedy musicals were an odd thing, it's a medium better suited to drama, but this and Book of Mormon have changed my mind. It's not quite up there with Book of Mormon in terms of number of laughs, but it's a much bolder, less obvious subject which makes it more interesting, bizarre and unique.
And if nothing else, it really has a lot of tunes and a stellar cast.
Absolutely amazing show.... Humorous, witty and really epitomizes what great musicals should be like!!!! The cast were flawless in their performance!!! A definite must see if you are looking for a great musical and a good laugh!!!!
Once hearing the title to this show I was sceptical although curious.
Upon reading the reviews I was confused as to how a musical could be such a laugh.
After the show it all made sense. It was funny, entertaining and unpredictable, as it doesnt follow the happy happy joy joy streak of other musicals. I have found myself all week with the catchy songs in my head.
Great night out, thanks to Time Out!
I am not a big musicals / theatre fan but you know, sometimes it is good to venture out and see new things, especially when Time Out Card treats you to a free session. And I did well to go and enjoy Urinetown because to me it is a UFO of a musical and I loved it!
It is a great satire of our society yet it is really fun. It pokes fun at us / other musicals yet it is not condescending. The cast can actually act and sing and their interaction with the public brings a new dimension to the performance.
Do go and enjoy it because you won't regret it!!
I was massively sceptic before I entered the auditorium but I was hooked from the opening line. The show is full of dark humour, quirky melodrama and freakishly funny surprises. I laughed til I cried, jumped out of my skin and wriggled with excitement. Expect the unexpected.
Brilliant show, great fun and a smashing performance from the entire cast. – WELL DONE GUYS!
Having not looked up anything beforehand, I found that Urinetown was such a laugh. In the same satirical, punny vein as Book of Mormon, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Highly recommend to anyone after a casual and light-hearted affair.
My friend and I went to go see this musical without knowing anything about it beforehand! It was definitely different to any other musical I have seen. We both felt it started off a bit slow/weird and got better as the show went on. It had some great songs and funny moments scattered throughout and it was definitely an enjoyable musical but not one of the best around at the moment. I would recommend going, but not if you are paying full price as you might leave a bit disappointed! :)
Fantastic! you will love this black muscial/comedy. its an amazing funny twisted show. You really don't expect much judging it by the title and the plot but the show is truly fantastic. l am thinking about going again and treat another friend to hours of laughter. Thank you Time Out Card for this awesome gift!
Last night I saw Urinetown the musical at the St James Theatre. This is the best show I've seen in years. It's funny, it's gorey, it's brilliant with a clever set design. Jenna Russell and Richard Fleeshman appeared as lovers together in Ghost the musical, now they appear again as you've never seen them before. This is no Mamma Mia, it's raw, it's gritty, it's atmospheric, and has a fantastic score - I am still humming the title song today. I'm going to book again before it's sold out.
Brilliant show! They are clearly having a ball! Its a must see! Get tickets! Really mixed audience but everyone was having a great time. Have not laughed this much since Book for Mormon. Brilliant music and set. The cast are fantastic.
Hey Annie, don't worry - use code "UGC157" and you can still get top tickets for £25. The code expires in a week so hurry! Others feel free to use as well :)