REVIEW: URINETOWN September 2017 - 'a mighty fine show'

Some extracts from our review by Sardines Magazine!

The house lights dimmed and the show opens with a grim welcome from Police Officer Lockstock, assisted by street urchin, Little Sally. According to Lockstock and Little Sally a twenty-year drought has caused a terrible water shortage, making private toilets outlawed. All ‘activities’ take place in public conveniences controlled by a corporation called Urine Good Company (or UGC). To control water consumption, people must pay to use these amenities and there are harsh laws ensuring that people pay to pee. Breaking these laws results in offenders being sent to a penal colony called 'Urinetown'... never to return.

The oppressed townspeople wait in line at the poorest, filthiest urinal, Public Amenity no.9, which is run by the rigid, harshly authoritarian Penelope Pennywise and her assistant, dashing young toilet operative Bobby Strong. Trouble ensues when Bobby's father, Old Man Strong, cannot afford his urinal admission for the day and asks Pennywise to let him go free just this once. After Old Man Strong's plea is dismissed he is forced to urinate on the street, is arrested by Officers Lockstock and Barrel and escorted off to Urinetown.

Everyone in the production is superb, ....Bobby Strong (Jon Bingham) played the role brilliantly... Catherine Willoughby takes on the role of heroin, Hope Caldwell (daughter of ‘Urine Good Company’ boss, Caldwell B Caldwell), wonderfully, playing every inch the damsel in distress. She equally matched the prowess of her leading man.

Another exceptional performance comes courtesy of Matt Hough as Officer Lockstock. Not only is he one of the main characters, he also acts as narrator to the piece. Hough handles it with aplomb, giving some lovely tongue-in-cheek expressions as the part demands.

All characters are played beautifully without exception; clear diction, excellent singing voices and wonderful dancers. So, it is difficult to pick out individual names ...but I will name just a few...

Darea Ellis as Little Sally, plays her role with all the juvenile naivety she could, bringing the character to life with great reality. Sabrina Hinchcliffe takes on the role of Penelope Pennywise with despicable sassiness and looks as though she's thoroughly enjoying her role. But the person who stands out head and shoulders above the rest, for me, is Jeandanel Antwi as Hot Blades Harry. His movements - singing, dancing and acting - comes full of experience and you can’t help but watch him all the time he is onstage. Keep your eye on that name, he will go far.

Under the direction of Danni Stembridge, the accompanyment is wonderful, with not a bum note in sight (or earshot) from her five-piece band. Oozing professionalism, Andy Thompson, Ted Hayes, Andy Hadfield, Manon Bristow and James Patrick are strong and reliable.

Gary Oliver, Charlie Anderson and their team's Lighting is another positive aspect to the show perfect at all times and at all levels. They say that if you don’t notice the lighting, it must be just right - and I did love the coloured lights shining from the toilet pedestals. The back projection graphics (Fred Pollard) in great comic-book style, are also well done.

Choreographer, Emma Hough, does a fantastic job with the way the whole show evolves through movement and the whole thing was very ably directed by Alison Lawrence, who obviously knows what is needed to bring this production to the stage.

 SImply Theatre put on a mighty fine show ...I wouldn’t hesitate going back to see them again in their next production