Apr. 30th, 2017

shannon_a: (Default)
Urinetown. That's pretty much San Francisco, isn't it? Maybe Berkeley too? Except the play says it's all our towns.



We actually went the play today with our friends M. and K. and daughter M. I think this is a first for us at the Playhouse, as we're usually solitaire goers. But we had a nice lunch with them at the Blue House in the Library Gardens, then a nice walk through campus (after walking a few scummy blocks of downtown Berkeley), then we saw the play. It's a nice bit of community and hanging out.



So, the play. It's satire and social commentary. It's about corporations taking over and plutocracy given precedence over human necessities. (Yes, like peeing.) It's also about rebelling, and how the rebellion can be as bad the corpocratic fascism, though I find the message gets a bit more muddled there.

That's because the play is also about Broadway, about the expectations of musicals, and how artificial some of them are. There was a lot of fourth-wall-breaking in the person of narrator Officer Lockstock. And there was a lot of exaggerated shock ("Whaaaaaaaat?") and more useless pirouetting than I've seen in two or three musicals. A lot of it was pretty hilarious, which is a good way to couch serious commentary. But the messaging got a little confusing because of those two competing issues: was the way the rebellion became what it despised actually about the rebellion against corpocracy or was it a strike against the happy endings of musicals. I dunno.

Throughout the early part of the play, I felt like every song came from a different musical, which was cool. Some of it felt very classic, and some of it felt modern. Near the end of the first act, everyone started waving flags as they rebelled, and that was the first one where I could directly spot the influence, which was of course Les Miserables. Then the second act started off with Russian dancing, which was clearly influenced by Fiddler on the Rooftop (To Life!) and Kimberly quickly recognized the finger-snapping of the next song as influenced by West Side Story. That was another fun element. (And it turned out that we got many of the direct references, though I later discovered that the wonderful gospel song that I couldn't recognize but seemed so familiar was influenced by "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat", from <I>Guys & Dolls</i>; and I've never seen two of the other influences <i>The Threepenny Opera</I> and <I>The Cradle Will Rock</i>).

Overall a fun play, a thoughtful play, a weird play, and for at least one scene a shocking play. As usual there were great actors at the Playhouse, including Lockstock (our narrator), Hope (our female lead), and Little Sally (our youngest rebel). I'd recommend it, except that was the last performance.

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