13 August 2022
2.0 out of 5.0 stars
I loved the musical Urinetown, so when I heard the same creative team wrote a new musical, I had to go and check it out. Yeast Nation – The Triumph Of Life goes back to the beginning of time and the very first life forms on the planet to construct a convoluted story around the evolution of love.
Unfortunately this one isn’t quite up to the standards of Urinetown, but it does have potential! I can absolutely see what they were going for, but feel it needs a good bit more workshopping to actually arrive there. But let me give you a brief plot summary first.
The very first life forms are the Yeasts, living deep within the primordial soup, abiding by The Strictures implemented by their king, the first yeast that started them all off, to keep them in check. They multiplied too fast, ate too much, and overpopulated the planet, thus having to enact strict rules to keep populations low and everyone obedient to the king. But one yeast decides to rise above the rest and changes everything forever!
However, none of the characters are rounded, or even particularly interesting. The story is very hetero-normative for single-celled asexual organisms that replicate by cell division, the insistence to use he and she pronouns throughout while actually singing about being asexual organisms and giving everyone the same name is a bit baffling. It’s very chaotic and just plain weird, but not in a quirky fun way. It feels a bit like every other love story with several “male” yeasts fighting over the affections of one “female” yeast (I have to assume by pronouns here) and just running a bit loose with the “evil advisor to the king” theme.
The artistic talent though was absolutely stunning, which was the only saving grace of this whirlwind of chaos. The actors put their all into their roles, throwing themselves fully into every weird twist and turn and trying to bring personality to very one-dimensional one-celled characters. With strong voice talent, the mediocre songs seemed grandiose and much better than their content would allow.
With a good dose of re-writing and tidying up the story, and a larger stage to fully unfold the underwater world of the Yeasts, this could actually become a great musical. But where it stands right now, it’s just a messy clump of cells in need of some evolution.