Supersize Mean

Mere Ubu? Clancy's killer update is much more.

Make room for Fatboy. Meaner than Stalin, hungrier than Idi Amin, deadlier than Pol Pot, he's the grotesque composite of every despot who ever lived, a voracious megalomaniac who binges on blood and destruction. He's the crude embodiment of America's vicious appetite for senseless consumption and war. He's also savagely funny.

Playwright-director John Clancy has supersized Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, but aside from a few winking topical references, he re-creates the original's anarchic spirit. This is not an update so much as a stern reminder: Jarry's prescient satire infamously sparked a riot at its 1896 premiere; Fatboy's audience may be less violent, but the outrage it feels at the play's targets is the same. Some plays ridicule their audience; others inspire political action. Fatboy may be the rare work that does both.

Not bad for a farce that spends most of its 75-minute stage time on broad slapstick and sex gags. In a nod to Ubu's origins as a puppet show, Soho Think Tank's production is monstrously cartoonish, with outrageously padded costumes by Michael Oberle and kitschy painted flats by Kelly Hanson. The actors never deliver a punchline when they can scream it. As the titular tyrant, the blustering Del Pentecost chews the scenery. Literally. And Nancy Walsh plays his wife, the power-mad nymphomaniac Queen Fudgie I, as a vaudeville Lady Macbeth. They head a mean cast that dares to turn on its audience, to lecture and mock them with bilious contempt. What's not to love?

 
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