The last day of 2014 was a good one. I walked from Whitechapel to the Tower and snapped some photos until it was time for Urinetown to start.
The minute I stepped onto that wide open, stone walkway in front of the Tower, I remembered the last time I’d been there. 2008. I had come to London with a friend I’d made in Glasgow from Indonesia who needed to visit her embassy. I’d never been there before, but visiting London was actually my number one goal during my semester abroad in Scotland. We saw the Tower, the Tower Bridge, Platform 9 3/4 (before the gift shop opened there and it became an “experience”), took a walking tour and saw Buckingham Palace, the memorial for the Great Fire, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Big Ben. We took pictures with one of the Queen’s guards, ate bad Chinese food and good Italian food, got lost, met the wax version of Pierce Brosnan, ate muffins made to look like cupcakes, and stayed in an okay hostel. It was amazing.
I couldn’t explain all of what it felt like to be there. But I knew I had to go back. So when my mom came to visit, we spent a couple of days in London and I got that feeling again: wholeness. This is what I felt on New Year’s Eve, retracing my steps around the Tower. While I tried to keep my balance on the cobblestones between the Tower and the bridge, I thought, “I’m walking around this city like it’s mine. Soon, it will be. I live in England — ENGLAND — and in about a month, I’ll be living here, in London, just like I wanted.” I walked to the nearest underground station and tubed it to Shaftesbury. My last meal of the year was sushi and a yuzu flavored aloe vera drink at the Wasabi next door to the Apollo Theatre.
Afterwards, it was time for the show.
I was moved from the Dress Circle to the 7th row of the Stalls, an ideal spot to take in the action. Urinetown is probably unlike most (if not all) other musicals you’ve seen. For one thing, it’s pretty meta, with two of the characters often speaking directly to the audience and each other about the musical you’re watching, and the mechanics of musicals in general. The setting is dark, dystopian, and unpleasant. Lucky for us, they weren’t bent on 100% authenticity or it would’ve smelled like…well…you know. The story is about people made poorer and poorer by a pay-to-pee policy. The only way to go is in a public toilet, and the price ain’t cheap. The company that owns these public urinals, Urine Good Company (har har), is run by your typical fat cat execs, and owned by a man who seems to take pleasure in other people’s pain. It’s a classic case of the rich getting richer by exploiting human need. Of course, there’s a hero who decides to fight for the right of every human being: to pee when and where (and with whom?) they want. There is also love. But in an interesting twist, love isn’t exactly enough to make everything all right for everyone.
Hands down, my favorite aspect of this musical was *dundunDUN* the music! Not only were the songs funny, but the singing was phenomenal. One song in particular, “Run, Freedom, Run” was SO. GOOD. At one point in the song, they parodied a Baptist church service, with one character directing the choir’s vocal acrobatics, then “healing” people left and right. That was the most surprising number to me, and the most fun. Everyone in the audience clapped and clapped…and clapped…and clapped after that one. The actors held their poses, then let their arms droop after a while, wearing pained expressions, then put their arms up again and plastered smiles back onto their faces, which of course made us laugh and clap even more. It was my favorite moment in the show.
I would say you should go see it (and you should), but unfortunately there isn’t much time left. The last show is on January 10th, then it closes (earlier than planned). A woman sitting next to me said she’d heard it was closing because of the name. That’s a shame if it’s true. However off-putting the name, it clearly hasn’t kept everyone away. If you’re looking to have some fun before the 10th and can snag a ticket, do.
I hope 2015 is a fantastic year for all of you 😀
How did you spend the last day of 2014?