King Ubu – Act 5


It is night. Papa Ubu sleeps.

Mama Ubu enters without seeing him.

The darkness is complete.

MAMA UBU. At last I find shelter. I am alone here. This is not a pity, but what a wild race – to cross the whole of Poland in four days! Every possible misfortune assailed me at once. No sooner does that fat arse leave, but I go to the crypt to become richer. Soon afterwards I almost get stoned to death by Bougrelas and his fanatics. I lose my cavalier, the Paladin Lap, who was so enamoured of my charms that he would swoon with joy at seeing me, and even, I’m assured, when he didn’t look at me – which is the height of passion. He would have cut himself in half for me, the poor boy. The proof is that he has been cut into quarters by Bougrelas. Biff, boff, boom! Ah! I think I’m about to die. Then, therefore, I take flight, pursued by the furious mob. I leave the palace. I arrive at the Vistule. All the bridges are guarded. I swim across the stream, hoping to evade my pursuers. On all sides the nobility assembles and pursues. A thousand times I cheat death, persecuted by a mob of Polacks lusting for my blood. In short I escaped their fury, and after four days of tramping through the snow of what was my kingdom, I arrive to take refuge here. I’ve had nothing to eat or drink these four days. Bougrelas was closing in on me. But at last, I’m safe. Ah! I’m dying of weariness and cold. But I would like to know what became of my thick buffoon, I mean to say my very esteemed spouse. After all, did I steal his money? Did I run off with his rixdales?. Have I taken one lousy bean?! And his Horse of Phynances, that was dying of hunger – it didn’t see oats often, the poor devil. Ah! What a great story. But alas! I lost my treasure! It’s at Warsaw, go look for it who will.

PAPA UBU (beginning to wake up). Get Mama Ubu! Cut off her ears!

MAMA UBU. Ah God! Where am I? I’m losing my mind! Ah! no, Lord!

Thank heavens, I see

Little Papa Ubu asleep near me!

Let’s be nice. Well, my fat fellow, did you sleep well?

PAPA UBU. Very poorly! He was well hard, that bear! Fight of the ravenous against the tough, but the ravenous completely ate and devoured the tough, as you’ll see when daylight comes. Do you hear, noble Paladins?

MAMA UBU. What’s he babbling about? He’s even stupider than when he left. Who’s he talking to?

PAPA UBU. Cotice, Battery, answer me, pshite-bag. Where are you? Ah! I am afraid. But someone spoke. Who spoke? It’s not the bear, I suppose. Pshite! Where are my matches? Ah! I lost them in battle.

MAMA UBU (aside). Let’s take advantage of the situation and the night. Let’s pretend to be a ghost, and make him promise to forgive us our larcenies.

PAPA UBU. But, by Saint Anthony, someone speaks! Ham of God! Hang me if they’re not.

MAMA UBU (magnifying her voice). Yes, Mister Ubu, someone speaks indeed, and the trumpet of the archangel which shall draw the dead from the ash and the final dust would not speak otherwise! Listen to this stern voice. It is the voice of the Archangel Gabriel, who can only give good advice.

PAPA UBU. Oh! That, indeed!

MAMA UBU. Do not interrupt me or I shall say no more, and it’ll be your funeral.

PAPA UBU. Ah, my belly! I’ll be quiet, I won’t say another word.

MAMA UBU. We were saying, Mister Ubu, that you’re a fat bastard.

PAPA UBU. Very fat, indeed, it’s true.

MAMA UBU. By God, shut up about yourself!

PAPA UBU. Oh! angels don’t swear.

MAMA UBU (aside). Pshite! (Continuing.) You are married, Mister Ubu.

PAPA UBU. Absolutely, to the last of the minxes.

MAMA UBU. You mean to the most charming of women.

PAPA UBU. A horror. She has claws everywhere. One doesn’t know how to take her.

MAMA UBU. It is necessary to take her with kindness, Lord Ubu, and if you do you’ll see that she’s at least the equal of Venus in Paradise.

PAPA UBU. Who did you say had lice?

MAMA UBU. You aren’t listening, Mister Ubu. Lend us a more attentive ear. (Aside.) But we must hurry, the day is about to break. Mr. Ubu, your woman is adorable and delicious. She doesn’t have a single fault.

PAPA UBU. You’re mistaken. There isn’t a single fault she doesn’t possess.

MAMA UBU. Silence! Your woman has never been unfaithful to you.

PAPA UBU. I’d like to see the man that would want her. What a harpy!

MAMA UBU. She doesn’t drink.

PAPA UBU. Not since I took the key to the cellar. Before, at seven o’clock in the morning, she was drunk and reeking of brandy. Now that she perfumes herself with heliotrope she smells no worse. It’s all the same to me. But now I’m the only one that can get drunk.

MAMA UBU. Stupid fool! Your wife doesn’t steal your gold.

PAPA UBU. No? That’s funny.

MAMA UBU. She doesn’t syphon off a single coin.

PAPA UBU. Witness, sir, our noble and unfortunate Horse of Phynances, who, not being fed for three months, had to do the entire campaign dragged by the bridle across the Ukraine. He died on the job, the poor idiot!

MAMA UBU. All lies. Your wife is perfect, and you, what a monster you are!

PAPA UBU. All I say is true. My wife is a rogue, and what a fathead you are!

MAMA UBU. Take care, Papa Ubu!

PAPA UBU. Ah, that’s right. I forgot who I was talking to. No, I didn’t say what I just said.

MAMA UBU. You killed Wenceslas.

PAPA UBU. That was not of course my fault. It’s what Mama Ubu wanted.

MAMA UBU. You killed Boleslas and Ladislas.

PAPA UBU. Too bad for them! They wanted to hit me!

MAMA UBU. You broke your promise to Bordure, and then you killed him.

PAPA UBU. I’d rather it was me that reigns in Lithuania than him. At present you can see it isn’t either of us. At least, you can see it isn’t me.

MAMA UBU. There’s only one way for all your misdemeanours to be forgiven.

PAPA UBU. What is it? I’m willing to become a holy man. I want to be a bishop, and see my name on the calendar.

MAMA UBU. You must forgive Mama Ubu for having diverted a little money.

PAPA UBU. Hey well, voilà! I will forgive her when she has returned it all and when I’ve thoroughly thrashed her, and when she has brought my Horse of Phynances back to life.

MAMA UBU. He’s obsessed with that horse. Ah, I’m lost! The day breaks.

PAPA UBU. Well, anyway, I’m happy to know for sure that my dear wife has been fleecing me. I have it now from a reliable source. Omnis a Deo scientia, which means : Omnis, all; a Deo, knowledge ; scientia, comes from God. There is the explanation of the phenomenon. But Madame Apparition doesn’t say anything any more. What can I do to comfort her? What she said was very funny. Hold, but it is daylight. Ah! Lord! Now by my Horse of Phynances, it’s Mama Ubu!

MAMA UBU (brazenly). That’s not true. I’m going to excommunicate you!

PAPA UBU. Ah! Carrion!

MAMA UBU. What profanity!

PAPA UBU. Ah, this is too much. I see perfectly well that it’s you, soft minx! Why the devil are you here?

MAMA UBU. Lap is dead and the Poles hunted me.

PAPA UBU. And me, it is the Russians who hunted me. Beautiful minds meet.

MAMA UBU. In this case a beautiful mind has met an ass.

PAPA UBU. Ah! Hey well. She is now going to meet a palmipede.

He throws the bear at her.

MAMA UBU (falling in a heap under the weight of the bear) . Ah, great God! What horror! Ah, I die! I choke! It’s killing me! It’s swallowing me! It’s digesting me!

PAPA UBU. It’s dead, stupid. Oh! But, as a matter of fact, maybe it isn’t! Ah Lord!, no, it isn’t dead! Let’s save ourselves! (Getting back up on his rock.) Pater noster qui es…

MAMA UBU (disentangling herself). Hold! where is he?

PAPA UBU. Ah, Lord! There she is again. Soft creature, is there no way of getting rid of her? Is it dead, this bear?

MAMA UBU. Hey, yes, you stupid arse! He’s already cold. How did he get here?

PAPA UBU (confused). I don’t know. Ah, so, I know. He wanted to eat Battery and Cotice me, and I killed him with one blow of the Paternoster Noster.

MAMA UBU. Battery, Cotice, Paternoster Noster! What’s is that? He is mad, my finance!

PAPA UBU. It’s exactly as I say. And it’s you who’s mad, my little gibbon!

MAMA UBU. Tell me about your campaign. Papa Ubu.

PAPA UBU. Oh, lady, no! It is too long. All I know is that in spite of my incontestable valour, everybody beat me.

MAMA UBU. What, even the Poles?

PAPA UBU. They were shouting: Long live Wenceslas and Bougrelas! I believe they wanted to quarter me. Oh! the fanatics! And then they killed Rensky.

MAMA UBU. That’s a matter of indifference to me! You know that Bougrelas killed Paladin Lap?

PAPA UBU. I’m indifferent! And then they killed poor Lascy.

MAMA UBU. Who cares?

PAPA UBU. Oh, but all the same, hold on, you carrion! Get down on your knees before your lord and master. (He grabs her and forces her to kneel.) You’re going to undergo capital punishment.

MAMA UBU. Oh, mercy, Mister Ubu!

PAPA UBU. Are you finished? Then I’ll begin: twisting of the nose, extraction of hair, penetration of the ears with a small stick, extraction of the brains through the heels, laceration of the bottom, partial or even total suppression of the bone marrow – if that will remove the spininess of your character – not forgetting the cutting open of the bladder, and finally the grand beheading a la Saint John the Baptist, the whole drawn from the holy writings of both the Old Testament and the New, set in order, corrected and perfected by the here-present Master of Finance! How does that suit you, fathead?

He goes to lacerate her.

MAMA UBU. Mercy, Mister Ubu!

Loud noise at the entrance to the cave.


The same.

Enter Bougrelas rushing into the cave with his soldiers.

BOUGRELAS. Forward, my friends! Long live Poland!

PAPA UBU. Oh! oh! Wait a moment, Mr. Polack. Wait till I’ve finished with Madame my better half.

BOUGRELAS (striking him). Take that, beggar, heretic, bully, infidel, Moslem!

PAPA UBU (riposting). Take that! Polack, drunkard, bastard, hussar, tartar, scabbard, cockroach, Savoyard, Communard!

MAMA UBU (hitting him too). Take that! capon, pig, felon, histrion, rascal, trollop, Polack!

The soldiers rush at on the Ubus, who defend themselves as best they can.

PAPA UBU. God! What a kicking!

MAMA UBU. They sure have feet, these Poles!

PAPA UBU. By my green candle, isn’t this ever going to end? Another one! Ah, if I had here my Horse of Phynances!

BOUGRELAS. Hit! Always hit!

VOICES (offstage) : Long live, Papa Ubu, our great financier!

PAPA UBU. Ah! There they are. Hurrah. Here come the Ubusmen. Forward. Come in. One has need of you, gentlemen of Finances!

Enter the champions who throw themselves into the fray.

COTICE. To the door, Poles!

BATTERY. Hey! We meet again, Mister Finance. Forward! Push vigorously! Secure the door! Once outside, all we have to do is run away.

PAPA UBU. Oh! I’m good at that. Oh! he hit me!

BOUGRELAS. God! I’m wounded!

STANISLAS LECZINSKI. It ain’t nothing, my lord.

BOUGRELAS. No, I’m only stunned.

JEAN SOBIESKI. Hit! Keep hitting! They’re making for the door, the beggars!

COTICE. I’m almost there! Follow me, everyone. By consequence of the fact that I see the sky.

BATTERY. Courage, Lord Ubu!

PAPA UBU. Ah! I’ve done something in my panties. Forward, horn-belly! Murder them, draw blood, skin them, slaughter them, horn of Ubu! Ah, they’re retreating.

COTICE. There are only two of them guarding the door.

PAPA UBU (stunning them with the bear). And a one! And a two! Ouf! There – I am outside! Let’s save ourselves. Everyone follow me – and quick!


The stage represents the province of Livonia covered with snow.

The Ubus and their suite in flight.

PAPA UBU. Ah! I believe they’ve given up trying to catch us.

MAMA UBU. Yes. Bougrelas has gone to crown himself.

PAPA UBU. I don’t envy him that crown.

MAMA UBU. You have every reason not to, Papa Ubu.

They disappear into the distance.


The bridge of a ship running close to shore on the Baltic,

On the bridge, Papa Ubu and all bis crew.

THE CAPTAIN. Ah, what a beautiful breeze!

PAPA UBU. We’re certainly sailing at a speed bordering on the miraculous. We must be making at least a million knots an hour, and the good thing about these knots is the fact they can’t be undone. Of course, we have a tail wind too.

BATTERY. What a pathetic imbecile!

A squall comes up. The ship dips and churns up the sea.

PAPA UBU. Oh! Ah! God! We’ve capsized! Everything is falling apart. Your boat is going to sink!

THE CAPTAIN. Everybody downwind. Edge the foresail!

PAPA UBU. Ah! But no! Don’t all get to the same side. That’s imprudent, that is. And suppose the wind changes direction? Everybody will go to the bottom of the water and the fishes will eat us.

THE CAPTAIN. Don’t pull in! Tighten close and full.

PAPA UBU. Come on! I’m in a hurry, me. It’s your fault, you ruffian of a captain, if we don’t make it. We should be there already. Oh oh, but now I’m taking over. Try to turn, for God’s sake! Drop the anchor. Face into the wind. Hoist the sails, secure the sails, helm up up, helm down, helm in the middle! You see, that goes very well. Cut across into the trough and that’ll be perfect.

They all roar. The breeze freshens.

THE CAPTAIN. Haul in the standing-jib, take a reef to the topsails!

PAPA UBU. That’s not bad! In fact, it is good! You hear, gentlemen of the crew? Bring in the big rooster and we will make a tour of the plum trees.

They die laughing. A wave washes on board.

PAPA UBU. Oh, what a deluge! It’s all down to the orders we gave.

MAMA UBU (to Battery). Delicious thing, this navigation.

A second wave hits the deck.

BATTERY (drowning). I renounce Satan and all his pumps!

PAPA UBU. Esteemed boy. Bring us a drink.

All sit and drink.

MAMA UBU. Ah, what a delight it will be to see gentle France once more – our old friends, our castle of Mondragon.

PAPA UBU. Hey! We will be there soon. And right this instant we have arrived at the castle of Elsinore.

BATTERY. I feel rejuvenated by the thought of once more seeing my dear Spain.

COTICE. Yes, and we will dazzle our countrymen with tales of our marvellous adventures.

PAPA UBU. Oh! absolutely. And me, I’m going to rename myself Master of Finance in Paris.

MAMA UBU. There it is! Ah! what a jolt!

COTICE. It’s nothing. We’ve just rounded the tip of Elsinore.

BATTERY. And now our noble ship sails at full speed over the dark waves of the North Sea.

PAPA UBU. Shy and inhospitable sea that bathes the country called Germania – named thus because inhabitants of this country are all Germanic cousins.

MAMA UBU. Now that’s what I call learning. They say it’s a very beautiful country.

PAPA UBU. Ah! gentlemen, so beautiful but it doesn’t compare with Poland. If there weren’t any Poland, there would be no Poles!

~ END ~

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