La Bete by David Hirson
This comedy by playwright David Hirson which recently opened at the Music Box Theatre in NYC explores the conflict between high and low art. The theme may be well-worn, but in Hirson’s hands the result is truly audacious.
Local princess and patron of the arts (Joanna Lumley), introduces a street clown Valere (Mark Rylance) to her very high art acting troupe led by the proud and erudite Elomire (David Hyde Pierce). To say that Valere doesn’t “fit in” is like saying the Grand Canyon is a small depression in the earth. To convince Elomire of his worthiness, Valere gleefully delivers a 20 minute monologue, in verse no less, full of vulgarities, malapropisms, and historical inaccuracies. It is an hysterical performance and alone is worth the price of a ticket.
Predictably things go from bad to worse for poor Elomire. Valere’s rather bizarre 18th C garb may not be familiar to 21st C audiences, but his antics most certainly are.