Alfred Jarry’s nasty and brutish avant-garde play Ubu Roi was the scandal of the season in Paris almost 100 years ago, surviving exactly one performance before a howling, hissing, and rioting audience. It’s still not hard to see why Jarry’s transgressions–profanity-peppered dialogue, constant onstage violence, kings and queens behaving like butchers, nitwits, and whores–drove the audience wild. But not even Jarry, who wrote Ubu Roi originally as a puppet show when he was 15, could have conceived of a production so vulgar, bleak, and blackly funny as the one staged by Hystoplis Productions. The company’s perversely inventive folks have put together an ensemble of grotesque, outrageous, life-size puppets led by the shapeless, corpulent Pa Ubu and his reptilian, bare-breasted wife–her nipples like claws, her tail like a scorpion’s stinger, her fierce mouth a tooth-filled gash. Though it’s the antithesis of all those cuddly monsters who sell numbers and letters on Sesame Street, Ubu Roi was successful enough for the Jim Henson Foundation (who partially funded the Chicago production) to make it the leading play next September at the International Festival of Puppet Theater in New York City. Candida Lund Auditorium, Rosary College, 7900 W. Division, River Forest, 787-7387. Fridays and Saturdays through May 4, 8 PM. $17. –Jack Helbig
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.