Ubu the King, Barbican Pit, London
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's chocolate mousse!
Sunday 04 December 2005
But this new version by David Greig, set in an old people's home, still has the capacity to shock - old people swearing profusely can always shock.
Greig said he hoped his version would be an "interesting and savage look at age in our society". In some ways he succeeds. To a certain extent it portrays the elderly and vulnerable in a far stronger and more humane way than television and the press generally allow, exploring their sexual urges and dramatising to good effect the banality of life in a care home.
Versions of Ubu have in the past been used to satirise dictatorships, but director Dominic Hill's production - a collaboration betyween Dundee Rep, Tron Theatre Glasgow and the Young Vic - fails as an allegory of despotism. Ubu kills the rich, the judges and the accountants after carrying out his coup on the king of Kazakhstan. After turning on the poor he finds himself powerless to prevent the Russian tsar from taking all his ill-gotten gains.
The action is funny, nothing more. It is too simplistic to have any deeper meaning. Alfred Jarry wrote the original when he was 23, and David Greig put together his translation eight years ago when he was of a similar age. As Greig admits, it has a very student-like feel to it.
Not that this necessarily matters. Ubu the King is, undoubtedly, great fun. The acting, led by a phenomenal Gerry Mulgrew as Dad Ubu, is superb throughout. Mulgrew receives strong support from Ann Louise Ross and Emun Elliott in particular.
A word of warning. Don't wear white. Food is liberally splattered about the stage and nappies full of what thankfully turned out to be chocolate mousse wing their way into the audience. SB
To 10 December, 0845 120 7500
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
- 4 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
- 5 Google search history can now be downloaded in its entirety, mass embarrassment expected
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: George Lucas admits he hasn't seen The Force Awakens trailer
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers Age of Ultron 'after credits' scene leaks online days before cinema release
Groundhog Day musical to premiere at Old Vic from Matilda theatre director
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments