OP Archive

Producing Company: Cheek by Jowl with Barbican, London, Les Gémeaux/Sceaux/Scène Nationale et Comédie de Béthune, Centre Dramatique National Nord/Pas-de-Calais

Further Information

Performed in French, with English surtitles.

Age guideline: 16+

Production photography: Johan Persson

Ubu Roi

By Alfred Jarry
Directed by Declan Donnellan | Designed by Nick Ormerod

Following the incredible ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, The Tempest and Andromaque, Cheek by Jowl makes a welcome return to the Playhouse with a new production of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, performed in French, with English surtitles.

Charting the exploits of the tyrannical King Ubu, the play is a startling challenge to the comfortable and conventional. Menacing, petulant and wonderfully anarchic, Ubu’s behaviour leads to his downfall. With Shakespearean undertones, Ubu Roi is both funny and grotesque and outraged audiences when it was first performed in 1896.

Cheek by Jowl has an international reputation for bringing “fresh life to the classics using intense, vivid performances like a laser of light to set the text ablaze” (Guardian).

Venue: Main Stage  |  Category: Drama  |  Running Time: : 1 hour 40 mins (no interval)


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Audio Description

Audio description is a service for people with visual impairments. It is a live verbal commentary delivered during a performance, capturing the key visual elements such as actions and movements, gestures and facial expressions, sets, props and costumes. The description is relayed to the audience member through a lightweight headset which is supplied by the venue.

Touch Tours

At some performances a touch tour will be available before a performance. This means that before the performance the describer will visit the set with the service users, describe elements of the design and encourage them to touch surfaces, costumes and props so that they can understand the geography and nuances of the performance. Please phone Box Office to book free tickets for the touch tours.


Is a service for people with hearing impairments of all kinds. The captioner uses a special stage text software. They convert the spoken word into text, which is displayed on a caption unit situated on or next to the stage. As the words are spoken or sung the captioner sends the specially formatted script to the display unit.

As well as dialogue, the captions also include the name of the character who is speaking or singing and descriptions of any sound effects. The difference between this and surtitling (for performances in another language) is that it is essential that all of the audible elements of the performance are communicated and the aim is that it be done with the same pace and style as the performances given as part of the production as a whole.

Captioning is also a useful tools for audience members who speak or are learning English as a second language.

'The captions helped me to understand some of the accents and was good practice for my reading skills'
Italian audience member

Pre-Show Talk

A talk held roughly 1 hr before the performance (please check for exact times) in the Top room at Oxford Playhouse. Usually given by one or more members of the creative team involved in a production (Director, Writer, Designer) or by an expert in a related field or in the work of that company itself. The event is £2 to a ticket holder for the performance but it is best to book in advance as there are only 65 seats available by calling 01865 305305. Please note the Top Room is not accessible to wheelchair users.

Post-Show Talk

This is a chance for you to share your thoughts about a production and ask any questions that you may have. Moreover it is an opportunity for you to get more out of your visit from the playhouse, for free. We hold a post show talk for most of out week long shows, usually on a Wednesday.

The talk will be led by a member of the Oxford Playhouse Learning Team and some or all of the cast. Sometimes the director is also available. A few questions will be asked on stage and then it's your turn - all questions welcome.

BSL Signed Perfomance

This service is for Deaf or deafened people with at least an intermediate level of British Sign Language. During a BSL signed performance a trained performance signer will be placed somewhere on the stage to the left or right of the bulk of the action. The Signer will interpret the spoken work and essentially translate it into BSL.