South African play in London :

South African play in London : Ubu and the Truth Commission

Written by Jane Taylor, it combines puppetry, live performance, music, animation and documentary footage and is directed by renowned South African artist and film-maker William Kentridge.

South African play in London :

Ubu and the Truth Commission is a South African play that is both anarchic and blackly funny that was premiere in South Africa in 1997. Revived last year to mark the 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa, it is currently playing in London.

The show brings to life some of the testimonies that formed part of the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. It is deep and dark, also absurd and very funny and with plenty of onstage action and brilliant technical movement. Absolutely not your usual fare and extremely entertaining.

Ubu  and the Truth Commission 519 by Luke Younge

The play combines some poignant historical archives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Ubu Roi, the licentious buffoon created in 1888 by French playwright Alfred Jarry and played brilliantly by Dawid Minnaar, unbecoming in vest and underpants.

Ubu  and the Truth Commission 425 photo by Luke Younge

The cast includes the award-winning actress Busi Zokufa as the irrepressible Ma Ubu, who thinksher husband is out philandering, but he was actually running a death squad – represented by a three-headed puppet dog – with the complicity of the state. In her blinkered naivety, she seems to regard this as a lesser crime than infidelity.

Ubu  and the Truth Commission 712 photo by Luke Younge

The action moves forward energetically using puppets made by the War Horse creators, the famed Cape Town-based Handspring Puppet Company. These sharply observed puppets are animated by Gabriel Marchand, Mandiseli Maseti and Mongi Mthombeni.

The play has been performed worldwide, from Taiwan to Colombia, and was last in London at the Tricycle Theatre in 1999.  Its current London run is from 15 October to 7 November at the Print Room, a London theatre company that used to be in Bayswater and has moved The Coronet in Notting Hill Gate.

The Coronet was built in 1898 as a theatre, later became a cinema and is back as a theatre and is one of London’s most unusual venues. It suits this play, which is almost beyond unusual.

103 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3LB

Box office 020 3642 6606 or online

Mon to Fri at 7.30pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 7.30pm.