REVIEW: Urinetown

I never thought I’d watch a musical called “Urinetown”, but there I found myself, sitting in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater on a Sunday afternoon with a playbill on my lap entitled “Urinetown.” However absurd the title is, and however absurd the characters and play is, the underlying message of it all makes you leave, thinking about what Urinetown really means.

In a town suffering from a water drought, the poor must pay Urine Good Company in order to urinate in public toilets. While such a society may seem ridiculous, the grim reality of the show proves that it’s not so crazy. Caldwell B. Cladwell and Penelope Pennywise keep the poor in order by demanding the fees with zero exceptions. Cladwell and Senator Fipp’s agreement also reflects the grim truth about how corporations influence politics.

Cladwell’s daughter, Hope, enters the company and sings an anthem about hope. While it may seem cheesy, the number was performed beautifully by Zoe Van Slooten and offered a naive optimism that was necessary. The numerous dance numbers throughout kept the musical light, which Little Sally noted should make it a happy musical. Bobby Strong’s hero persona was appealing, leading the revolution until he was forced to visit Urinetown. Even though Office Lockstock spoils what Urinetown is in a flippant manner since that’s not something he can casually mention in Act 1, Bobby’s death came as a surprise, and his drawn-out fall offers a stark reflection of the dramatic reality of possibility.

The dialogue between Little Sally and Officer Lockstock satirizes musicals in a wonderfully meta way, and Lily Gechter’s portrayal as an innocent and curious Little Sally was convincing. Kevin McDanglebunny was probably the real star of the show though. While the over-the-top “gasp”s and “whaaaat?!”s could’ve been cringey to watch, the cast pulled it off, fully buying into the absurdity of their lines and actions. You could tell the audience loved this show with the constant laughter and never-ending clapping. Robby the Stockfish, played by Rachel Francisco, was an absolute favorite on the stage, her stilted walking and movements eliciting much joy.

However, despite the laughter that the cast brings, the drastic ending is certainly not happy at all, emphasizing the balance between draconian rules and freedom. As the world is changing and affected by climate change, a future filled with drought that forces people to pay a megacorporation to pee—as absurd as it may sound—doesn’t seem too far away anymore.


Angela Lin

Angela is a senior studying English and the Environment. The only thing she loves more than writing and the arts are wombats.

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