Ubu Roi / König Ubu
Father Ubu, highly-decorated but coarse, cowardly and gluttonous, is incited to regicide by his power-hungry wife, Mother Ubu. By means of a massacre of the Polish royal family, the calamitous couple takes the throne. Carried by hopes and great popularity after the coup, King Ubu wastes no time to start blatantly pursuing his own selfish agenda. Firstly, he decides to have all members of the nobility executed in a “De-braining machine” and to seize all their belongings for his own personal advantage. Next, he dismissed all judges, taking on the task of meting out justice himself, and decrees a radical fiscal strategy that entails an excessive increase of all direct and indirect taxes. And he also makes sure personally that these taxes are brutally collected.
It doesn’t take long for resistance to emerge – the oppressed people start to rebel and stage a revolution under the leadership of the rightful heir to the throne, the only one to survive the massacre. At the same time, a dissenter encourages the Russian Tsar to intervene against this despot, who is killing his opponents indiscriminately. War breaks out.
Alfred Jarry’s radical and absurd play from the year 1896 is considered the most important precursor of modern theatre. In King Ubu, it presents the prototype of an egomaniacal and brazen power seeker, whose characteristics can be traced straight to our present times.