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La Bête @ The Music Box Theatre - 9.25.10

I generally don't see a lot of Broadway shows because the tickets are too pricey, but someone offered me a comp for La Bête and how can one resist? -- it features AbFab's Joanna Lumley! -- I bit. La Bête is a comedy that made its Broadway debut in the early 90's, lasted a couple of weeks and was buried for nearly two decades before someone decided to cast an undead spell on it and run it past London audiences with the intent of bringing it back to New York. So now, the show is back for a "strictly limited engagement" which may or may not be Broadway speak for "We have a hunch that approximately 2 people will like it! But if more than that do, then I guess we'll keep it going."

The play, which is delivered almost entirely in rhyme, is thematically about how the masses co-opt great art and turn it mediocre. Imagine you're a writer for 30 Rock and some suit (Joanna Lumley) gave you a bunch of crappy notes and said btw, you have to bring in all of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno writing staff onto your writing staff or else go fuck yourself. A writer's gotta eat though, right? So what should David Hyde Pierce (the high art dude) do??

To strike home on the play's theme, there's an underlying (and insulting!) meta subtext: the audience in attendance is part and parcel of the widespread degradation of art. We literally witness the devolution of high theatre and it's all our fault because we're really the unwashed duds, clamoring for crapola.

La Bête's most notable scene has Mark Rylance (the low-brow scrub, summoning the vocal cadence of HungryBear9562) literally pooping and flatulating his way through a half-hour long monologue that had me and most everyone else in the theater with a smartphone sexting or playing Angry Birds. Why would a producer willfully inflict this sort of punishment on an audience? This torture might have worked in the 90's but nobody has the attention span for theatre tomfoolery these days. Do they?

I don't know. But there's nothing for Lumley to do here, Pierce doesn't get to be as funny as he can be, and La Bête is bookended by so much preachy ideological blather that you're left feeling annoyed more than anything. There are parts that are ha-ha funny, but overall, the stakes just aren't there and this beast is kind of a bust.

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    La Bête @ The Music Box Theatre - 9.25.10 - The Apiary - The Apiary - A Comedy Website
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    La Bête @ The Music Box Theatre - 9.25.10 - The Apiary - The Apiary - A Comedy Website

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