There are elements to admire in her interpretation of Simon Stephens’ new satire on the inadequacies of the legal system, but it severely strains one’s patience – especially in the opening section, a mercifully abbreviated version of Alfred Jarry’s 1896 Ubu Roi, enacted by foul-mouthed puppets, in which the tyrant despatches judges, bankers and the landed gentry with all the crudity of a seaside Punch and Judy show.
It sets the scene for what is to follow as Lizzie Clachan’s curved set opens out to a booth at an international tribunal where, decades later, a crumbling and briefly seen Ubu is on trial for crimes against humanity.
Kate Duchêne and Nikki Amuka-Bird are remarkable as the simultaneous interpreters translating over 400 days of gruelling evidence in near monotones, their faces and movements subtly registering their reactions to the despot’s cruelty. But despite its short running time, this proves an uninvolving evening with little dramatic impact.
Hampstead, Eton Avenue, NW3 3EU
Tube: Swiss Cottage
until 25th February
– Louise Kingsley