Mark Rylance and David Hyde Pierce star in David Hirson's rollicking play.
What Is the Story of La Bete?
La Bete is set in a stunning palace in 17th century France, where Elomire, the intellectual head playwright of the castle’s resident acting troupe, is told by the court’s Princess that he must meet with Valere, a local clown the Princess discovered performing in the streets. She believes Valere would make a perfect addition to the acting troupe to help lighten their often overly dramatic works and provide more public appeal. Elomire is disgusted by the idiotic and often vulgar antics of Valere, whom he believes would ruin the troupe’s reputation should he join. The Princess is not pleased to hear Elomire’s contradictions and demands he give Valere a second chance to prove his talents. She then orders Valere to perform his own works in order to decide who should stay and who should go.
What Is La Bete Like?
Written in Moliere-style verse (the character Elomire’s name is a play on the famous author) La Bete is performed entirely in rhyming verse. Many of the actors are given lengthy monologues to showcase their talent for delivering this delightful tone. While there is much scholarly discussion about the importance of high art vs. popular entertainment, the show is not afraid to go for the occasional low-brow laugh.
Is La Bete Good for Kids?
If your child is a fan of potty humor (yes, literally—scatological jokes and all), he or she may find the comedy in Valere’s outrageous behavior. The theme of mediocrity versus high art is not kid’s fare—and the stylized language probably won’t appeal to anyone younger than high school age.