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Shetland Youth Theatre has announced that it is to perform one of its most original productions to date: a version of Ubu Roi (King Ubu), written in 1896 by the French playwright Alfred Jarry, live in a play-park in Lerwick this month.

The group has always embraced the challenge of performing in unusual venues and for the latest venture has announced that the production will be performed in the Hayfield Play Area in Lerwick, from 25 to 27 June.

The production is a wild, bizarre and comic play that overturns all theatrical norms and traditions. When the play was first performed in Paris it provoked a riot in the audience with its self aware attempts to flout any form of theatrical realism and to present a whole new vision of theatre, with more than a passing pastiche of Shakespeare.

The play is credited with having opened the door to 20th century modernism and as a precursor to Theatre of the Absurd and Dadaism. At the core of the play is Ubu, an infantile anti-hero who inhabits a world of self gratification. For Jarry, Ubu was a metaphor for the modern man: vulgar, gluttonous, grandiose, dishonest, cruel, and cowardly.

Ubu Roi Image

The world of the play is that of a cartoon burlesque where there is no place for consequence. Ubu is relentless in his ambition and cruelty but as there is little effect on those who inhabit this farcical world, he is reminiscent of a small child indulging in the most extreme temper tantrum.

Explaining the decision to perform in a play park, director John Haswell said: “The company has been exploring the show through the eyes of a child. This is a cartoon world where even the most extreme actions have no real impact. It is an extreme version of ‘King of the Castle’ and that is how we are performing it. This production celebrates the world of comics and the characters in them. Weather permitting, the show will be a riot from beginning to end.”

Ubu Roi will be performed in the Hayfield Play Area on Wed 25, Thu 26 & Fri 27 June at 7.30pm. This is an outdoor, standing performance and audiences are advised to dress appropriately. The content is suitable for those aged 12+.

Tickets go on sale on Friday 6 June. Booking is via Shetland Box Office at Mareel and/or Islesburgh, over the phone on 01595 745 555, or online at shetlandboxoffice.org and/or mareel.org.

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