I like to watch musicals. They have an abundant energy of musical and theatrical qualities. Last year I saw my first Broadway musical in New York. It was a well-known Korean theatre company. The first insight in my first experience was art is for entertainment sake rather than art is for art’s sake. Urinetown is a continuation of that feeling.
The stage is quite a complex production; mechanisms going upside down, and easily changing mobile elements used effectively. Few details like the little Sally’s use of the underground cap makes the stage work more of an art. The playwright does not hesitate to use the whole theatre as a stage. It makes the audience a part of the play. I like the part when the white collars of the company accompany to the chorus of the Urinetown inhabitants from the in front of the stage. It is such a nice outsider-insider game of the director.
The narrator similar to Glass Menagerie is switching between the play and the audience often. He is the mediator between the audience and the stage. He is one of the most interesting figures in the play. Even he seems to be in the bad side, he has a humanly relation with the little Sally, I really could not manage to see him as a bad figure.
Urinetown is an ironic critic of the modern times. It reminds me Marx and his thoughts on the relationship between proletariat and the bourgeoisie. For Marx, the whole history is a class struggle, the relationship between the oppressing and oppressed. The play is like a parody of this relationship. The writer makes fun of the capitalist society, and its constitutions with grotesque characters and their character work. The values like the brotherhood, (Eros) love, parental love are in the scope of making fun too. On the surface it seems fun, but I found a strong critical insight behind this choice too. It is the critic of the family, morality, and laws. It again reminds me Marx and his critic on the constitutions of the capitalist society.
There is a naïve symbolism with the girl ‘Hope’. She has a reference to the blonde, lovely heart, but not smart enough cliché. After she gets the control over the Urine town she cannot sustain the continuity of the order. It is another ambivalence moment for me. The writer does not leave any attachment points for the audience to the characters. They re like caricatures derived from absurd moments of life. This detachment gives a feeling of lightness to the audience.
One of the things I like about Hollywood is that people can produce successful and to-the point critical movies about themselves from their own flesh. I mean if something needs to be criticized, it is emerging from inside. Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999) is an example of this observation. I relate this to the flexibility and dynamism of a developed capitalism culture. It may not be a successful analogy but if we make a parallel understanding with Hollywood and Broadway musicals, Urinetown stands with Fight Club in the same plane with different approaches, different motives.