Imagine a world where using the restroom whenever necessary is considered “indulging in a whim.” Imagine a city where pollution is lurking in every corner, waiting to attack the bottom of your shoes. Imagine a society where sporting dirty faces, muddy skirts and petticoats are commonplace because the use of hydraulics is “worth its weight in gold.”
“Urinetown,” the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre’s first musical of the season, is set in a place where all those imaginings become a reality; a reality sprinkled with humor, that is. The musical ridicules overly idealistic musicals and is set in a society that is highly reminiscent and as oppressive as that of George Orwell’s “1984” or Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.”
The plot revolves around an extreme drought that has left the government no other option but to tax citizens for the use of toilets. Eventually, the citizens become fed up with the “taxation for urination” and start a revolution.
“Urinetown,” as put on by the cast from UM’s Department of Theatre Arts, is filled with spontaneous comical actions and unexpected occurrences. The musical is far from predictable; characters interact with the audience about as often as they do with each other, much to the audience’s delight.
Other than a few minor mishaps (only once or twice did orchestras play music too early, and characters followed too late), the musical does its duty to alert society of the eventual causes of environmental damage and decontrol of natural, nonrenewable resources.
The dialogue, wittily worded, comically feeds the audience an exaggerated version of the earth’s eventual fate if they choose not to tackle the issues addressed in the musical. “Urinetown” is a must-see for all musical aficionados on campus, as hidden political messages and new insights are provided with oodles of laughs.
Stephanie Parra may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rating: 3.5/4 stars