The fiendish and flatulent Ubu (Sam Glissan) realises that come the revolution, everyone has to do something. He is up for killing the king, but not much else. Until he gets a taste of power, that is, then he has a change of heart. You would not guess it going in, but U.B.U is actually a timely piece about the perilous threat of big business to our ecosystem that mocks the existing (white) men in power who prefer to look the other way in the face of environmental catastrophe.
U.B.U begins as a surreal romp that is set in the realm of King Dumc’nt (Idam Sondhi) and family when their idyllic reign is overthrown and those that survive become either slaves or outcasts, after Ubu is convinced to assassinate the king. Intent on re-claiming the kingdom and avenging his father, Prince Bitchard (Gideon Payten-Griffiths) then hatches a plan to oust Ubu.
The subject of the play is prescient and execution is deceptively simple – the whimsy almost overtaking the material. Almost, but not quite. What Minister Fuller Bjullschitt (Tristan Black) doesn’t realise when he convinces Ubu to murder is that sometimes the power can go to one’s head after such an act. A person can also get a taste for violence.
A great nine-strong cast tackled the roles with gusto and were hilarious in their interpretation of writer/director Richard Hilliar’s material. Standouts for me were Lib Campbell as the regal Queen Lizardbreath and Tristan Black as Fuller Bjullschitt and Segue. Both (all the cast really) giving exuberant performances that were mannered perfectly, I half expected Queen Lizardbreath to huffily exhort her public to eat cake.
A very funny show – and the first work written by Tooth and Sinew co-director Richard Hilliar. A ‘blunt and basic’ message that will stay with you long after you leave, despite the silliness. Actually, maybe because of the silliness. Late great writer Jonathan Swift (he of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ fame) would have been impressed by the scatological references, himself being a great chronicler of the excretory process: ‘Fine ideas vanish fast, While all the gross and filthy last (Strephon and Chloe, l.233-4)’.
U.B.U is presented by Tooth and Sinew and is on at the KXH Bordello Room until 21 September, for more information and tickets see: http://www.kingsxtheatre.com/popupstairs/ubu-
Writer/Director: Richard Hilliar
Featuring: Tristan Black, Lib Campbell, Rachael Colquhoun-Fairweather, Emily Elise, Sam Glissan, Gideon Payten-Griffiths, Shane Russon, Idam Sondhi and Nicole Wineberg.
above image by Ross Waldron