Saturday, April 19, 2014

Go see "Ubu Sings Ubu" at Abrons Arts Center

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Take one part Ubu Roi--translated from the satirist Alfred Jarry's French by good ol' reliable Google--and one part Pere Ubu song list. Mash that up with some dance moves and puppetry for extra flava and feed it to the hungry souls of Tony Torn (Pa Ubu) and Julie Atlas Muz (Ma Ubu) with the hallucinogenic notions of Kaz Phillips Safer (video) and Jay Ryan (lighting), and you'll get the psychotropic elixir that is Ubu Sings Ubu, now at Abrons Arts Center.

Co-directed by Torn (who adapted the work) and Witness Relocation's Dan Safer (who choreographed), the boisterous, electrifying Ubu Sings Ubu can't stay in its place. It continuously sloshes and spills past the performance area the way a storm-driven ocean barrels into a low-lying village. I like the radiant actor Torn very, very, very much--but at a distance where his mercurial performance dazzles. Pa Ubu up in the face? Not so much. A stupid man, mad for power and free of conscience, Ubu's an explosion waiting to happen, a walking id and nightmare from the heart of darkness. (In other words, stay away!) For her part, Muz's bawdy and scheming Ma Ubu might climb onto you and lock her legs and naked nether parts around your neck.

The Underground Theater at Abrons doesn't allow much wiggle room, either. It's tiny, and you'll probably find yourself packed in with a mess of folks trying to catch the final shows. Ubu sings (and plays) LOUD. Stay well away from the speakers.

You did say you relish immersive theater, right? Just checking.

Sets and costumes by Deb O; a truly amazing animal cape by Ben Rosenberg; and sound design and musical direction by Vera Beren; musicians Beren, Emmitt Joe George, Matt Butterfield and Patrick "Paddymyke" Conlon

Ubu Sings Ubu runs through April 26. Wednesday-Saturday, 8pm with late shows on April 25 and April 26 at 11pm. For information and tickets, click here.

Abrons Arts Center
466 Grand Street (at Pitt Street), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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