Walmartopia (yes, really) opened off-Broadway this week on Labour Day, the US celebration of the working class – quite deliberately, since the musical is intended to satirise a company that has been widely vilified for its less-than-enlightened attitude to workers’ rights.
The ‘plot’ involves a mother and daughter, both disgruntled Wal-Mart employees, who are transported by time-machine to 2037, a nightmarish future where the company has taken over the entire country (except Vermont). There they are treated to bouncing smiley faces, mad scientists and, strangely enough, the disembodied head of deceased Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
Naturally, Wal-Mart was less than impressed, with a spokesman accusing the writers of making the entire thing up without ever having been to a Wal-Mart store (where disembodied heads are presumably few and far between).
However, the show’s creators were unapologetic, maintaining that they had in fact visited the store (not surprisingly, given it is the biggest supermarket chain in the US and the second biggest company in the entire world) and insisting that the show was making an important point.
There’s only one problem. It’s apparently not very good. ‘Somewhere between bland and witless, just to the right of dull,’ said one critic. ‘A witless, amateurish musical,’ agreed another. ‘One big tedious time-waster,’ added a third. And these were some of the better reviews.
So it looks as though Wal-Mart may not have too much to worry about after all. And you might be better off spending Saturday afternoon in Ikea instead.