They won’t specifically be mentioning The Donald, but Squall + Frenzy will leave you in little doubt that it’s the president-elect they’ve got in mind when they bring their new production of cult pre-Absurdist comedy Ubu Roi to the stage in their first-ever tour.
Dates include Jubilee Hall, Lancing: December 7; and Marlborough Theatre, Brighton: December 14 and 15.
Isabel Sensier, creative director and company founder, is promising a daring new adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s 1896 symbolist masterpiece: “A balancing act, blending surreal critiques of current political events and a post-pantomime romp through some of Shakespeare’s most-loved stories, Ubu Roi has more than earnt its controversial reputation. Pere Ubu is the kind of villain you love to hate, and he hates you just as much as you hate him.”
And for this particular production, Pere Ubu will have an orange face and very yellow hair: “And he will have the bad tan, just like Trump has got. They are very similar characters. Pere Ubu is ridiculously ambitious and is not ashamed to be a bit disgusting in the sexual depravity he has got up to. And he is just constantly saying the things that no one else would dare to say, and when he takes over power, he does terrible things. He triples the taxes and puts everyone in a pit which is really reminiscent of what Trump says about building a wall. We found that all these things in the play were reminiscent of what was happening in the 2016 presidential campaign. To start with, we were really only going to have just references to it, but it has got bigger and bigger and we decided just to really go for it”
All without mentioning Trump by name...
“I founded the company about three years ago,” says Isabel. “It’s a mixture partly of being able to do things that I have written myself. I came to it as a playwright, and I also wanted to make theatre that was asking questions and also theatre that was made locally rather than being in London. We are Brighton-based.
“It was quite a lot of work getting it started. I think it was a New Writing South group I went along to and met the co-founder who does not work with us anymore. But we have just found people along the way. Some people have come in for just one show or have become equal members in the company. We do one or two shows a year. Generally, we do a show at the Brighton Fringe Festival. This year we are doing this tour as well. We did the fringe last year and this year, and now we are touring for the first time. It’s ambitious! It is a lot more hard work than producing ordinary shows, but we just wanted to build up our fan base and we wanted to reach out to people slightly-further afield than just Brighton, plus we are going to places that might not normally have theatre there, that wouldn’t have their own theatre scene.”
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