Jose Gil/Contributing Writer
With students stressing out over midterms, work or the thousands of other things that enter our day-to-day lives, it’s important to find the time to laugh, and in this writer’s opinion nothing has given me as much of gut-wrenching laugh as FIU Theatre’s “Ubu Rex.”
“Ubu Rex” is described by its poster as a mix of “Game of Thrones” and “South Park,” and after seeing the play, I can wholeheartedly vouch for that claim. For those of you unfamiliar with the Comedy Central program, “South Park,” it is a show that satires everything, from race to religion to entertainment. Its humor is crass and juvenile, and that’s exactly what you get when seeing “Ubu Rex.” So if farts and genital jokes aren’t your cup of tea, this show might not be as funny for you.
“The play attacks a lot of ideologies and beliefs, so those that are easily offended might want to stay away,” said director Michael Yawney.
However, there is a hidden layer of complexity in this play that really speaks to me.
Actress Natalia Quintero-Riestra, who plays Cootie, a soldier/bodyguard to Pa Ubu, perfectly summed it up when she said: “It’s a great opportunity to relax and forget about what’s going on in the world, and just revert back to a time when things were simpler and the dumbest joke would make you burst out laughing.”
It’s that reversal to such an innocent phase in our life that elevates this play and will have you walking out the door with a giant smile on your face and a sore abdomen.
This modern retelling by director Michael Yawney incorporates a very experimental set design, use of props and musical cues. Written over 120 years ago, the playwright Alfred Jarry took the story originally told by several of his teenage friends as a prank on their teachers and parents, into a hilarious satire on society that still holds to this day. To begin to describe the plot would be like trying to describe all of “Game of Thrones” in one sitting: possible, but not as fun as actually watching the show.
An astonishing aspect of the play was the amount of energy and the intensity that each of the characters had whenever they were on stage, a feat I imagine was extremely difficult for the actors and was reinforced by Sabrina Mendoza, who is credited as playing Horse (A– End).
“Our director was always reminding us that really physically demanding shows requires the energy to always stay alive and that within all the chaos we need to be very, very controlled,” said Mendoza.
The second half of the play does take a dip in pacing which I believe has to do with the ever-lively energy on stage fatiguing the audience. But this dip does not detract from the greatest slo-mo fight scenes, killer jokes and performances, and all around goofiness that surrounds the play.
“Ubu Rex” does a great job at livening up a room and inciting its audience in a mad hysteria of laughter. I cannot stress how amazing the entire cast was. How they effortlessly embodied such chaotic characters and delivered some of funniest lines while keeping a straight face is beyond me, but it’s that ease that makes it all the more immersive for the audience. I would do a great dishonor to not mention the hardworking crew members, set designers and prop masters that work to bring the stage together.
The creative vision behind the play, director Michael Yawney, states that while not directly inspired by any specific movie or TV show a lot of choices came from the current situation in the world. He was amazed at how a play written 120 years ago can eerily relate to what is going on in today’s society.
Although “Ubu Rex” play might not be for those who are easily offended it definitely is worth the watch. So come out and support the FIU Theatre Department and enjoy a night of laughs and let the stress melt away.
Stale Popcorn is a column written by Jose Gil. It brings you reviews on the top films, TV and theatre shows happening in popular culture and at FIU. The views and opinions expressed in Stale Popcorn do not reflect that of FIU Student Media’s editorial board.