Ubu on the Table
Jarry's anarchic classic given the puppet treatment
This article is from 2016.
Having performed Ubu on the Table in French and Spanish over 800 times around the world, theatre company La Pire Espèce made an English adaptation their next challenge. The play is a twist on Alfred Jarry's Ubu roi, an outrageous parody of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
The play charts Pere Ubu's murder of the King of Poland, and the subsequent warfare and political chaos. The play arguably gave birth to modernism, and its zany aesthetic acted as a precursor to surrealist theatre. La Pire Espèce reimagine Ubu by performing the show with puppets around a small table – and kitchen utensils are the leading actors.
Confused? Ubu on the Table is a deft and high-octane puppet show. The props, or cast, are well chosen: an upturned teapot is particularly effective as the murdered King. It's full of Fringe frivolity, descending into the spectacle of two men flinging lumps of baguette around, conveying warfare with childlike zeal.
Unfortunately, the work put in by the two puppeteers often feels unequal to the laughs returned. It's an energetic show, with clever puppeteering, but the tray of foodie ammunition stage left is a foreshadowing too far and the food fight finale becomes overlong.
Summerhall, until 28 Aug (not 15, 23), 2.35pm, £12 (£10).