Washburn presents Shakespeare parody ‘Ubu Rex’

Andrew Shermoen

Tyrants, Russian invaders and overactive imaginations. No, this isn’t our current world of politics, it’s the plot of the latest production from the Washburn theatre department.

A parody in the absurd of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” “Ubu Rex” runs 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov 9 – 11, at the Washburn Theatre.

“The play was initially written by three French boys, teenagers, making fun of their math teacher,” said Tony Naylor, director. “We’re taking it back to its roots, and we’re showing this as kids in their pajamas at a sleepover telling a story.”

“[The show is about] good power vs bad power,” said Emma Staats, stage manager. “Basically, you have a pig of a human being taking control by slaughtering a bunch of people. You’ll see how that has a negative impact on society and how it eventually ruins him. But since it’s kids telling the story, of course he makes it out in the end.”

Naylor agreed that the play is relevant to today’s society.

“[Ubu Rex] speaks a lot on the current state of politics,” Naylor said.

In the universe of Ubu Rex, Pa Ubu is convinced by his wife to kill the king of Poland and usurp the throne. After Ubu imposes heavy taxes to line his own pockets, the young prince of the assassinated king returns with Russian forces to restore him to his rightful place.

Staats said that her favorite part of the show is that a story with such serious themes is told through the light-hearted lens of the younger generation.

“It’s really just a bunch of kids playing dress-up,” Staats said. “The actors play multiple characters, which is what kids do when they’re playing. It’s really amazing to see these actors rise to the occasion and really just have fun.”

“Ubu Rex” is a show that will draw more than a few laughs, with its bodacious swearing and raucous performance by the enthusiastic performers. The cast and crew are confident that students will enjoy this unconventional production.

“We want to expose students to theater they aren’t going to see anywhere else, and that they haven’t seen before, in the hopes it will pull them back in for future shows,” Naylor said.