Review: The KTS's Ubu Enchained

Ubu Enchained took hold of the Pit Wednesday night – and didn’t let go.

Ubu Enchained took hold of the Pit Wednesday night – and didn’t let go.
The KTS production by early-20th Century avant-gardist Alfred Jarry sets about squashing whatever notions of freedom may feel most comfortable to us and replacing those notions with slavish ones that dominate the world of the play.
Ironically, Jarry’s theory of slavery is couched in the freest theatre I can recall experiencing. Director Iain Soder’s vision of a space with no seats, on-stage lighting operators, and free-flowing character and costume changes beautifully expresses the heart of a seemingly inaccessible show.
Jarry’s wild ideas move rapidly around the stage with flashes of light, movement, and musical elements. Sometimes more than one person plays the same character, the motifs skillfully and constantly changing hands with the costumes.
In this way Soder and his cast accurately represent the theoretical elements of Jarry’s script while maintaining a ubiquitous electricity that keeps the space humming with attention.
In one of my favorite moments, Davis Carr and Lauren Walsh-Greene, perched atop a set-piece that occupies the centre of the space, play the same character on two sides of a glassless mirror, periodically stepping through to each others’ side. Even while moving rapidly and precisely mirroring each other’s actions, they remained true to their own character as shape-shifting actors, even when that meant they broke stride with each other.
Indeed all of the actors shifted between characters, allowing each artist to bring their own interpretation of the character to the stage. Actors took on a sort of characteristic apart from the characters that they played, resulting in truly enjoyable, genuinely theatrical performances.
The actors’ energy is compounded by the “freedom” of not having seating. The audience can see what it wants from where it wants. If it is backlight you desire for a scene, you can see it. If you want to be close enough to have the severe stage make-up which adorns the actors on your sweater after the show, you can do that too. The one thing you cannot do is escape from the action or fade into the background of the show.
The creativity of Soder and his cast (which by all appearances looks like a well-oiled company), succeeds in making the vast Pit feel incredibly intimate, versatile and – oddly, in a show largely about imperfection – perfect.
The show is a must-see.

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