Urinetown – Spoof or Prophecy?

Urinetown – Spoof or Prophecy?

Langham Court Theatre’s Urinetown production “great fun”

By Sheila Martindale

You might wonder how a show with such an unappealing name could be a hit. But Urinetown was popular when it first hit the boards, and it continues to be now at the Langham Court Theatre.

It is a BIG production, many of you will know the smaller size of the theatre and stage at Langham Court; so huge congratulations are owed to the director, Roger Carr, and the choreographer, Jennifer Sanders.

The strong singing is one of the first things that strikes you, so kudos also to the music director Donna Williams. This group of performers sings well together and the songs are well-written and harmonious. The principal male character, Liam McDonald, has a particularly fine voice.

The thesis of the play is that a drought has necessitated banning the use of private toilets; people are therefore forced to use public amenities, for which they have to pay apparently disproportionately large sums of money. So eventually a riot ensues among people who are already poor, and object to having to pay to pee. Still doesn’t really sound like the kind of show people would flock to see, though. I guess you have to be there to comprehend its appeal. So, we have enmity between the underprivileged, and the corporate types who get rich by charging them for such a basic function. And then we have a love affair between the leader of the rebellion and the daughter of the corporate big shot, causing a major complication.

The two police officers are an interesting set by the names of Mr. Lockstock and Mr. Barrel – get the joke there? Mr. Lockstock, ably played and sung by Dwayne Gordon, is also the story’s narrator, so he spends some time explaining the plot, and at the same time poking a little fun. In fact, the entire musical show is a kind of spoof, tongue-in-cheek but with a real basis of truth. As Lockstock says, “it is not a happy musical.”

The costumes in this show are way over the top, but that’s OK because of the type of production it is. Doug Craig’s set design is very ingenious, if a little busy, but it is functional enough for twenty-four actors and four musicians to be on stage at the same time without falling over each other.

Difficult as this piece of theatre is to define, I would have to say it is part self-deprecating satire and half prophetic warning of our inability to sustain the quality of life on earth to which we have become accustomed. It is also great fun, as the wild applause and hooting on opening night testified. On the serious side, the Capital Regional District has set up a display in the lobby on water conservation, and had also donated a spigot in the bar area, which has allowed the theatre to discontinue the sale of plastic bottles of water.

Langham Court has picked an unlikely and ambitious show here, which, despite its name and subject matter, seems to be turning out to be a winner. Urinetown runs until February 3; for tickets call 250-384-2142 or email boxoffice@langhamtheatre.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Michael Demers, performing here as a member of The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo by Benji Duke)
Victoria music community mourning Michael Demers

Veteran singer-songwriter, co-founder of The Lonely dies at 63 due to leukemia

The Royal B.C. Museum has added a tamba dining set, used by a Punjabi man on his voyage to Canada in 1927, to its ‘100 Objects of Interest’ online collection. (Courtesy of Royal B.C. Museum)
Punjabi dining set added to Royal B.C. Museum’s ‘100 Objects of Interest’ collection

Set used by Indar Singh Gill on his voyage from Punjab to Canada in 1927

Victoria-born musician Bryce Dane Soderberg took to Instagram Monday to call out the Greater Victoria School District on its proposed cuts to elementary and middle school music programs. (Bryce Dane Soderberg/Instagram)
Victoria-born Lifehouse vocalist calls out SD61 on proposed music cuts

‘It will be a big loss to future generations’ Bryce Dane Soderberg posted to his Instagram

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Island artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Viking-inspired fantasy writer Joshua Gillingham of Nanaimo and Seattle-based Islamic science fiction editor Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad are co-editing ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star.’ (Photos submitted, illustration by Lada Shustova/Figue)
Nanaimo author co-editing historical anthology connecting Vikings and Muslims

Joshua Gilligham presents ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star’

Saltair-based writer, Krista May. (Janet Kelly photo)
Island writers make long-list for 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Krista May and Angie Ellis among 33 finalists selected out of over 3,000 entrants

A writer studying in England drew from her roots growing up in Sooke for a story that’s been short-listed for a prestigious international prize.
Former Sooke resident up for prestigious writing award

Cara Marks earns nomination for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Most Read