Watermill Young Company - Ubu Roi
9th to 12th November 2016.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
A riotous absurdity
Watermill Young Company's spirited Ubu Roi
Watermill Young Company: Ubu Roi, at The Watermill, Bagnor, from Wednesday, November 9, to Saturday, November 12
Alfred Jarry's satirical, surreal play Ubu Roi was first performed in Paris in 1896 and closed on its opening performance when the audience rioted.
The Watermill Young Company brought this parody of Macbeth bang up to date in this fast-paced exuberant production splendidly directed by Seamus Allen.
It's a tale of a power politics, genocide, greed and sexual exploitation, told with more than a nod to the likes of Monty Python and The Goon Show, with a modern and outlandish sense of the absurd.
The young cast (far too many to mention all) performed with energy and enthusiasm, playing multiple characters with ease on Libby Todd's multi-coloured geometric inventive set.
The plot is epic in nature. Stan Dooley was outstanding as the swaggering hyperactive Pa Ubu, plotting to kill the King of Poland, Vencelas (Albie Embleton), encouraged by Ma Ubu, impressively played by Olivia Snell, in ensuring his bloody ascent to power.
Ma Ubu persuades him to share his ill-gotten wealth with the populous in order that he can then ensure he gets his taxes.
He rounds up the nobles, the bankers and the judges and sends them to his dungeon and ultimate death and now controls the land.
However, his dynasty does not run smoothly as he has to fight the Russians under Tsar Alexis (Sebastian Rocco) and King Vencelas' son Billykins (Michael Seath) who is seeking revenge for his father's death.
Meanwhile, Big Bad Bernie (Niall Madden-Blain) protects Ma Ubu when her husband goes to war and she secretly tries to find the Polish buried treasure.
Rory Robertson-Shaw was Captain Dogpile, who initially supports Ubu but changes sides and joins the army to defeat Ubu who, during the battle, finds shelter in a cave but is attacked by a bear in a hilarious scene.
Pantoesque fun, such as throwing a huge cannonball in the battle scene, and many smaller balls as weapons, had the audience laughing and enjoying the ensuing chaos.
This ambitious production was fully embraced by the spirited cast, who performed with zest and total commitment – and the audience loved it.