Today is My 100th Birthday or The Disappearance of Ubu Roi

Monochrome make-up, over-sized cigars and manic choral singing are only a few features you’ll find in the stylised theatre of the Dead Iconics. The company tend to favour style over substance and the visual feast is worth a look. It’s an ambitious and imaginative effort; however the show’s wackiness needs to be better kept in check in order for the talents of the cast to be fully exploited. Even taking into account the abstract quality of Tadeusz Kantor (the Polish dramatist who the company cite as an inspiration), the lack of structure or purpose means it’s a challenge to invest in the piece.

Superficially, the Dead Iconics are indeed fabulous, however a greater attention to detail would give their fabulous style a backbone of substance.

It’s tricky to outline any basic narrative, but I’ll do my best. As the title suggests, we are celebrating a one-hundredth Birthday. The drama circles around the ensemble’s chaotic attempts to prepare for its celebration, but in a classic absurdist trope the birthday boy never finally shows up. This premise is often forgotten and feels to be a rather tenuous excuse for the action which follows. With names like Holy Hell, Sharon, Blockhead, and Naomi Campbell, the ‘iconic’ characters are deeply ambiguous. A shouting Winston Churchill figure desperately tries to navigate between scenes.

This cast of cartoonish imps move jerkily around the stage, forming grotesque shapes, and performing in a mix of combinations, through mime, physical theatre, ballet, and song. The cast sing well together and I enjoyed the eerily beautiful melodies and incantations interspersed throughout the action. Odd moments of comedy emerge through whimsical little set pieces. When The Mossiah loses his head under the exaggerated shoulders of his costume, he requires a crank to bring it back up into place.

Production managers Heather Graham and Ian Skinner must be praised for the artistry behind the set and makeup. Empty clear bottles hang from the ceiling like the sort of edgy art installation you might find in a Shoreditch café. Each costume is fantastically inventive. One of my favourites was a bun’s hair tie and neck-collar linked together by thin bars, forming a cage around the performer’s face.

Unfortunately through, the scenes, songs, and characters are not quite distinct enough to make an impression. Last year’s Against Nothingness from Pulse53 employed an almost identical aesthetic to far greater effect, due to the strength of the music, the clarity of the characterisation, and the evident thinking behind the piece. In order to emulate Pulse53’s success in this style, The Dead Iconics need to score on each three points.

One of the randomly declared lines from My 100th Birthday is: ‘May the power of Christ compel you to be… fabulous!’ Superficially, the Dead Iconics are indeed fabulous, however a greater attention to detail would give their fabulous style a backbone of substance.

Reviews by Kate Wilkinson

theSpace @ Jury's Inn


Bedlam Theatre

Be Better

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

A Little Man's Holiday

Black Medicine



Aspects of Joy – Free

Pleasance Dome

Lazy Susan: Double Act


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Polish artist Tadeusz Kantor, Dead Iconics invite you to a birthday party like no other. Slide to unlock an immersive world of dream and memory, where lost icons live out their dark rituals in anticipation of the Master’s arrival. This story is told through vibrant imagery and physicality, and inspired by the contemporary works of Allen Jones – so don your birthday hat and don’t be late. You don’t want to find out what happens when things start to go wrong…

Most Popular See More

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £42.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets