SF Guardian Cries “Long Live SF Theater Pub”

In addition to Nicole Gluckstern’s short review below, critic Sam Stander praised San Francisco Theater Pub’s casual, freewheeling adaptation of Ubu Roi last Monday. The full article, which can be viewed at the Guardian site here is reprinted below.

THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE SF THEATER PUB

Sam Stander – San Francisco Bay Guardian – July 22

SF Theater Pub’s one-night-only presentation of Alfred Jarry’s bawdy classic Ubu Roi this past Monday felt like nothing so much as a group of dedicated friends putting on a show because they thought it just might turn out awesome. The staged reading took place at SF lounge Café Royale, a pleasant venue with couches and balcony seats as well as standing room that rendered the production all the more intimate.

The play is a deliberately sick-and-twisted piss-take on Macbeth, eviscerated of all its pathos and stuffed full of crap, and the Theater Pub performers, as well as director Bennett Fisher’s new translation, seemed entirely tuned in to its irreverence. Greedy, grubby protagonist Pere Ubu was played with alternating witlessness and pomposity by Sam Leichter, but the most successful comic performer on display was Catherine Lardas, who delivered a positively Oliver Hardy-esque Mere Ubu. The herald Pile (Warden Lawlor) stood above the other actors on the balcony, reciting increasingly complicated titles for Pere Ubu as he continued to murder and annex the positions of several other noblemen.

Music and sound effects from DJ Wait What were evocative of old radio plays, and the minimal use of props such as a giant plastic sword generated a few laughs. The show certainly felt like a one-off event, with all the actors reading their lines from music stands, but this only added to the sense of comeraderie and fun.

Besides the fact that SF Theater Pub’s events are free (a donation at the door will get you a raffle ticket!), their most attractive feature is their apparent modernist sensibility when selecting plays. They’ve already put on Václav Havel’s Audience and an assortment of Greek tragedies. They’re following up Ubu with a collection of short local plays under the heading “The Pint Sized Plays.” Their blog then announces a series of Beckett shorts for September, though on Monday night they claimed September would hold some Oscar Wilde performances.

Most fascinatingly to this reporter, they’ll be celebrating Halloween with a series of radio play-style adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft stories. There’s nothing I love more than hearing people say “eldritch” and “gibbous” out loud, so those should be jolly good fun. This diverse roster of plays, as well as a genuine sense of joy, means SF Theater Pub are ones to watch in the coming months. Especially since watching them is totally free!

Massive Crowd and Pleasing Press for Ubu Roi

UBU ROI marked our second most well attended event after our first performance of CYCLOPS. Old faces and new laughed as Pere and Mere Ubu climbed to the top and dropped ignobly down again, savored new material by our guest DJ Wait What, and marveled at the bar’s new stage lights. It was a time and a half. But don’t take our word for it. Here is what the San Francisco Bay Guardian said about the event:

“In the crowded Café Royale, loss of life, limb, and the last tattered shreds of (in)dignity were being explored by San Francisco Theatre Pub with their free staged reading of “Ubu Roi” — adapted by company member Bennett Fisher. As the oafish would-be-king of Poland played by Sam Leichter cursed, spat, and clawed his way to the top, his power-hungry wife Mere Ubu (Catherine Lardas) gave the term Machiavellian a feminine touch as she urged him forward, then stood out of the way of his inglorious fall. Though it initially seemed that as many people came to hear the guest deejay (DJ Wait What) spin as to see the classic forerunner of absurdist theatre (overheard: “I think it’s about a king. It’s set in France.”), the café crowd soon became a cheering, catcalling, mass of enthusiastic participation. Directors of reading series take note: a spoonful of alcohol helps the medicine go down. And bartenders: a spoonful of Ubu can only help the alcohol sales go up.” – Nicole Gluckstern, San Francisco Bay Guardian

We are back at it again on August 16 with the Pint Sized Plays, so do not stray far.