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Theater of the Absurdist

Talk about nostalgia! Ubu Roi, which takes bows at Space 55 Theatre, was first produced in 1896.

Championed by theater fans as the play that launched the absurdist tradition, Ubu Roi (King Ubu) was penned by French writer Alfred Jarry. The author likely considered his career finished when a riot broke out at the show’s first-ever performance, but he recovered and went on to write a pair of sequels. All three plays send up conservative European philosophies and bourgeois traditions, so it’s ironic that -- presumably because the second and third installments are even more rambunctious than the original -- Jarry never saw them produced in his lifetime.

Ubu Roi is a polemic that follows the career of a fictitious, much-hated schoolteacher. He’s an unscrupulous politician and a lousy husband who’s eventually murdered by his sons, but not before he -- and Jarry -- satirizes royals from Macbeth and various other Shakespeare plays. That alone explains those old-time riots.

Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Nov. 13. Continues through Nov. 23, 2008


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