Review: ‘Urinetown’ delivers major comic relief in Berkeley

“Don’t Be the Bunny” might sound like a puzzlingly unconventional Easter greeting, but it’s actually one of the many hilarious songs in “Urinetown, the Musical,” the 2001 musical playing at Berkeley’s Julia Morgan Theater in a riotous Berkeley Playhouse production.

Winner of the 2002 Tony Awards for best score and best book of a musical, “Urinetown” takes place in a drought-ridden dystopian future where not just water but also urination are strictly rationed by corporate profiteers colluding with the government, and the poor are forced to pay to relieve themselves. Anyone caught trying to pee for free is carried off by the cops to Urinetown, a mysterious and much-feared place from which nobody ever comes back.

With catchy music by Mark Hollmann and wonderfully witty lyrics by Hollmann and book writer Greg Kotis, the songs are bursting with glorious pee-related puns such as “We, we never fail” or the chorus “You’re in Urinetown.” Kotis’ dialogue is packed with hysterically literal responses to metaphors and common turns of phrase. “What an unexpected surprise,” for example, leads to, “Is there any other kind?”

The show is narrated by Officer Lockstock (cheery and stentorian-voiced Matt Davis), who embodies the old-timey stock character of the friendly neighborhood policeman in his running metafictional commentary with Brittney Monroe’s cute-as-a-button, constantly questioning moppet Little Sally, but becomes downright sinister when he’s on patrol.

Our hero is Bobby Strong…

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