Following a sell-out three-month run at the St James Theatre this spring, hit show Urinetown: The Musical has just opened at the Apollo Theatre. With such a title, there’s no surprise to learn this isn’t your typical fluffy, hearts and rainbows type of show. An original and witty production, Urinetown originally opened on Broadway in 2001 and won three Tony Awards during its near three year-run.
Set in a Dystopian future, residents of a city are living through a long drought, which has led to strict water rationing so spending a penny… well, costs a lot more than a penny. It appears the basic right of relieving yourself has become something for the elite and those who attempt to do it for free are punished by being sent to ‘Urinetown’.
The run at St James Theatre has already wowed critics, with the Daily Telegraph labelling the show: ‘Sharp, smart, funny and disturbing,’ while The Guardian wrote: ‘It’s impossible to deny the originality of this crowd-pleaser.’
Directed by Jamie Lloyd (Richard III, The Commitments), the production stars Simon Paisley Day (Caldwell B Cladwell), Matthew Seadon Young (Bobby Strong), Jenna Russell (Penelope Pennywise), Rosanna Hyland (Hope Cladwell), Karis Jack (Little Sally), Nathan Amzi (Officer Barrel), Jonathan Slinger (Officer Lockstock) and Marc Elliott (Mr McQueen). The show, written by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, runs at the beautifully refurbished Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.
- Urinetown: The Musical is on at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, from 29 September 2014. Tickets start from £21.50. For tickets and more information, visit the official Urinetown website. There is also a special gala performance of the show on 20 October 2014, with ticket proceeds going to WaterAid.org, which helps those in developing countries gain access to clean drinking water and proper toilet facilities.
For the guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
Let The Right One In – Apollo Theatre
Approaching the end of its run at the Apollo Theatre is John Tiffany’s acclaimed production of Let The Right One In. Having already won over audiences and critics at the Dundee Rep Theatre and the Royal Court, it opened at the refurbished Apollo Theatre in the West End in March. After hearing great things about the production, I finally went to see the play in its last few weeks.
The first thing that strikes you is the stunning stage design – the original setting of Sweden from the 2004 novel (by John Ajvide Lindqvist) and cult film adaptation has been moved to a wintry Scotland in the 1980s. The play takes place in a forest full of silver birch trees which looks magical under the moonlight and a spooky street lamp. The plotline grips the audience from the start as a man is killed like a pig strung up on a tree with his blood drained – the first sign this is not a traditional love story. A serial killer is on the loose, which isn’t appearing to ruffle lonely teenager Oskar (Martin Quinn), who continues to hang around in the woods. The son of divorced parents, of which neither is quite up to the job, Oskar finds no support in school either, where he is brutally bullied by Jonny (Graeme Dalling) and his cronies.
It is in the eerie forest where Oskar meets Eli (Rebecca Benson), a pale girl who ‘smells funny’, who immediately informs him they ‘can’t be friends’. Despite her odd behaviour, Oskar is drawn to her and it isn’t long before the two form a friendship, eventually turning to romance. It soon transpires she’s a lot odder than Oskar ever anticipated – she’s a centuries old vampire and the man who appears to be her father, her ‘protector’ Hakan (Clive Mendus) has been responsible for the murders in a bid to feed her blood.
The dysfunctional dynamics between Oskar and his alcoholic mother and absent father and Eli with possessive Hakan brings up many issues aside from the love story. The play explores loneliness in its many forms, no doubt stirring many memories in the audience who would have all felt that emotion at some point in life. Despite being a ‘monster’, Eli appears more human and compassionate than the violent bullies who torment Oskar at school.
Assisted by Ólafur Arnalds’ score and beautifully choreographed movement sequences, the play has moments of horror, humour and tenderness. Quinn’s brilliant performance as awkward Oskar stirs both sympathy and laughter, while Benson is stunning as she shows both Eli’s vulnerability and horrific power simmering within. Let The Right One In brings a moving combination of plot layers, actors, stage design and music, all working together to create a striking piece of theatre. Although the production is about to end its West End run imminently, I am certain we will see this compelling show again, whether it’ll be elsewhere in the UK or New York.
- The National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Let the Right One is on the Apollo Theatre until 30 August 2014. To book, call 0844 412 4658 (no booking fee) or online at NimaxTheatres.com, Right One In.com or SeeTickets.com (no booking fee).
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.