An outrageous portrait of a grandiose tyrant and his voracious ways from the international theatre company Cheek by Jowl, presented as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

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King Ubu is a scheming and murderous yet ridiculous potentate who has inspired parodies of politicians and dictators from Joseph Stalin to Idi Amin. This production by UK's Cheek By Jowl, is set at a posh dinner party in the home of a couple and their disaffected son, who watches the world through the lens of his video camera. The images he captures are streamed and projected live as banal dinner chit-chat erupts into comic absurdity and reality and fantasy intertwine. Performed in French with English supertitles.

 

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Reviews (23)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
87
Avg Score

90
The New York Times

"It’s impossible not to be transfixed by the raging force of its energy...What makes this 'Ubu Roi' more than a clever riff on a period piece is its sense of the raw, ravening anger in the boy’s satirical vision. The show’s penultimate scene hits you like a blast of dirty, icy water. It’s an all-too-relevant reminder that the asocial fury and confusion we tend to think as just a passing phase (he’ll grow out of it) among teenagers does, on occasion, give birth to truly murderous monsters." Full Review

85
New York Post

"'Make no mistake: It’s a punk play...The problem is Jarry’s nihilistic masterwork is completely gonzo, with made-up words, grotesque characters and outlandish plot developments that make it hard to stage. Luckily, Donnellan found a great way around that...There’s a thin line between order and chaos, and it’s often darkly funny." Full Review

80
Financial Times (UK)

"Amusing, slightly exhausting production...But Donnellan, who is one of the most inventive directors alive, and his designer, Nick Ormerod, rescue the evening from glibness by visually and verbally switching the point of view." Full Review

90
The Telegraph (UK)

"“School-boy humour” tends to get a bad press. But where would theatre be without it? As a golden opportunity arises to watch Cheek by Jowl’s acclaimed production of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi – seize it! – it feels only right to bow and scrape a bit before Jarry’s seminal act of juvenile disrespect." Full Review

90
The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "How do you recapture the shock impact of Alfred Jarry's 1896 play, with its savage portrait of a grotesque monster? Declan Donnellan has had a brilliant idea in this production: he plays it as the Oedipal fantasy of a camcorder-clutching teenager taking revenge on his parents and their French bourgeois world." Full Review

90
Financial Times (UK)

for a previous production "Declan Donnellan’s inspired and revelatory idea is to splice the play with a bourgeois dinner party and so to address head-on the adolescent bile and humour that courses through Jarry’s original...It’s endlessly inventive and wickedly funny...This exhilarating reading rekindles the savage comedy of the original." Full Review

80
The Telegraph (UK)

for a previous production "This radical spin has its tongue in its cheek, a snigger in its jowl and an accent on showing the bourgeoisie going bonkers. The show is perfectly judged. If the cast seem to having more fun than the audience, it’s nonetheless no boo-boo, this Ubu." Full Review

90
The Independent (UK)

for a previous production "This exhilaratingly fresh and witty take on the play has a blackly hilarious twist...This is a production that keeps flipping, with laugh-out-loud switches of intensity, between the babble of an ordinary bourgeois function and the madly epic misadventures of the royal pair." Full Review

90
The London Evening Standard

for a previous production "The reliably challenging company Cheek by Jowl does justice to Jarry’s eccentric vision in this expressively physical revival...This is absurd theatre with a brashly apocalyptic resonance, and Donnellan directs with inventiveness. The result, though hard to watch, is an inspired production of a gruesome drama." Full Review

95
Rev Stan's Theatre Blog

for a previous production "It is breathtakingly clever, organised chaos that startles, shocks and has you laughing out loud...This is surreal theatre at its dizzying best and it won't be for everyone. It is like a Ferrari having to have a push start but once the engine catches you better buckle up." Full Review

85
Metro (UK)

for a previous production "Director Donnellan’s idea is to set the play inside a bourgeois dinner party...Playwright Jarry’s attack on greed and corruption is not subtle, and even a production as eerily elegant as Donnellan’s can’t prevent ennui setting in. Yet this excellently acted production is full of witty theatrical flourishes." Full Review

80
The Times (UK)

for a previous production "'Ubu' is a creation of angry male adolescence. So the director and designer cleverly frame it that way. The company is brilliant, moving with physical fearlessness between elegance and hideous indignity: movement and soundscape perfect. It does go on a bit: there are limits to the time you want to spend in an angry teenager’s head." Full Review

85
The Arts Desk

for a previous production "As the saga begins to buckle, the artists throw more inspired ideas at it and the energetic ensemble of six works overtime. For all their embodiment of tyranny, the Ubus are cardboard monsters. We can’t care about their fate but you’ll come out both exhausted and febrile, shaken with laughter but also a little disconcerted. See it while you can." Full Review

95
Warwick Arts Centre (UK)

for a previous production "An unconventional and subversive show...This show breaks all the boundaries of accepted social behaviour, featuring outrageous and animalistic performances from the versatile actors onstage, enhanced by innovative staging techniques...unnerving, but brilliantly executed." Full Review

80
France In London

for a previous production "Murder, greed, and lust all interlink into a physical performance. Cleverly constructed, the everyday tools such as buckets and toilet scrubs, are used as crowns, death traps and weapons. With regards to the cast, they all show great energy and vitality. The director effectively revives Jarry’s work with dynamism and innovation." Full Review

90
The Good Review (UK)

for a previous production "The show is a shining example of physical theatre at its best. The actors take on their parallel characters with gusto; leaping, running, dancing and rolling across the stage, arms and legs flailing with abandon. Go and be astounded." Full Review

100
The Upcoming (UK)

for a previous production "The direction of 'Ubu Roi' is full of surprises...The movement and choreographic approach is endlessly playful and energetic, striking just the right balance between darkness and sophisticated slapstick...Absorbing from start to end the six-member cast demonstrates that Cheek by Jowl is a company of concrete quality." Full Review

90
What's On Stage (UK)

for a previous production "It begins by thoroughly bewildering us, but ends with the audience thoroughly engaged. And if that isn't good theatre, then I don't know what is." Full Review

100
The Hunts Post (UK)

for a previous production "It’s gripping and it’s funny. A superb cast of six switches with the flick of a shadow from the sedate dinner party with happy chattering guests to the violence of war and conquest...and suddenly back again smiling at the table. The well-observed performances and movement are sublime. This is heaven-sent straight to the stage. " Full Review

45
Daily Info, Oxford

for a previous production "A clever and skilled but ultimately unsatisfying retelling of Jarry's pre-absurdist work. While the play often made you think "ah - how clever!" there wasn't really any point that made you feel anything. You end up not only not caring if everyone on stage dies, but actually wishing they'd hurry up about it so that you can sneak off to the pub." Full Review

90
A Younger Theatre

for a previous production "Cheek By Jowl has created a dinner party as scandalous as they come. 'Ubu Roi' is a messy yet beautiful production, and one not to be missed." Full Review

90
Exeunt Magazine

for a previous production "The brilliance and intelligence but also the fun of Director Donnellan's wise, ticklish staging is that it out-does Jarry himself. By interweaving scenes of an unruffled dinner with the maniacal explosion of subterranean force – Donnellan permits himself not only to match the Surrealism of Jarry’s original, but in some ways to better or advance it." Full Review

100
Fourthwall Magazine

for a previous production "The classical actors, comical, vibrant and immersed, are sublime. They are continuously required to peek out from behind society’s mask, transforming in the space of time it takes to switch a lighting state, and they do so with seeming ease; it is a rare delight to behold acting of this calibre...Jarry started a fire with his posthumous classic, and all who contributed to this production ensure that the embers continue to burn one day into the consciousness of all those brave enough to consu... Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
0
Avg Score

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