Satirical play that sparked riots in Paris is being reimagined in Belfast

Tinderbox Theatre Company will present the politically-charged parody Ubu the King at the MAC this month, based on the controversial classic from a century ago

Following from the huge success of The Man Who Fell to Pieces, Tinderbox Theatre Company returns to Belfast's The MAC from February 12-23, with the political tour de force Ubu the King inspired by Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry.

Grotesque, gruesome and hilariously absurd, Ubu the King is described as political, poignant and resonating deeply with today’s government and the ever-threatening political dictatorships currently causing upheavals and uncertainty across the globe.

Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi created a revolutionary stir in Paris when it first premiered in 1906, sending shockwaves across Europe with its heavy parody on the Bourgeois Class and satirical view on the corruption of people in power. Tinderbox’s production will imaginatively transpose the classic tale to a modern French patisserie kitchen where Head Chef Ubu and his sous chef and wife Ma Ubu cause chaos and tyranny with disastrous consequences.

The hilarious production directed by Patrick J O’Reilly promises to be a theatrical event of dance choreography, stunning visuals and delicious multi-roling performances from a five-strong, all NI cast. It will combine European clown and physical caricature to create a viscerally powerful production that transposes an audience to performances full of trickery, comedy and high quality entertainment. The production is supported with original music composition by Katie Richardson and design by Ciaran Bagnall.


Rehearsal photo by Ciaran Bagnall

Director of Ubu the King, Patrick J O’Reilly commented: 'I am incredibly excited to present the absurdist masterpiece Ubu the King by Alfred Jarry at The MAC. The show sparked riots when it first premiered in Paris, due its unforgiving nature in revealing the brutality and grotesquery evident in humanity. Given our current political and social circumstances, such as Brexit and far-right extremist voices strengthening in power across the world, the absurdity so beautifully captured in Ubu the King unfortunately seems all too real in 2019. Ubu the King by Alfred Jarry is a fearless, anarchic and deeply moving piece of absurdist theatre, shining an unapologetic light on dictatorship regimes, far-right extremist views and the dark shadows of our history.'

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: 'I can’t wait to see how Tinderbox’s Ubu the King gets to grips with the already bizarre character of contemporary politics. The Arts Council is Tinderbox’s principal funder for the very purpose of encouraging ambitious projects and bringing to them its distinctive inventive practice and this production promises audiences the opportunity to see a masterpiece of absurdist, physical theatre, brilliantly interpreted for our day. Ubu the King will be one of the most entertaining arts events of the year and I encourage everyone to go along.'

Ubu the King will run at The MAC 12 – 23 February 12-23, 3.00pm and 8.00pm in the Upstairs theatre. Tickets are priced £12:50 - £18. Advisory: 18+. For further information and booking visit or