It is 17th century Paris; Elomire (Sarah Wilson)—note that Elomire is an anagram of Moliere—heads a great theater company, and is outraged when their patron, the Prince, insists that a street clown, Valere (Gregory Prest), join their troupe.
La Bête is a crude egomaniac, unshutupable (his first monologue is about 40 minutes long) and uninsultable. Eloimire, a purist tragedian, is appalled. Their battle between high art and low art is as full of post-modern hilarity as it is of lamentation.
Written entirely in rhymed couplets, La Bête is a tour de force script requiring tour de force performances.
Prest is in rare form—this is an astounding performance, a triumph of comic virtuosity.
Wilson is commanding and elegant, letting the rhymes roll off his tongue as if it were ordinary speech with Oliver Dennis’ Bejert serving as her staunch supporter.
Aside from Raquel Duffy, her company is filled with Soulpepper familiars and newcomers that include: Paolo Santalucia, Michaela Washburn, Ghazal Azarbad, Rachel Johnes and James Smith. Fiona Saunder makes an adorable Dorine.
The costumes, designed by Shanon Lea Doyle are both opulent and goofy as need be, often at the same time, and the wonderfully crafted set by Ken MacKenzie makes you long for yesterday.
This hugely demanding play—requiring Olympic feats of memorization and of precision timing—is a great night in the theater. Don’t miss it!
LA BÊTE by David Hirson May 23 – June 22, 2018 YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto TICKETS $35.00 –$95.00 www.soulpepper.ca 416-866-8666 CAST Ghazal Azarbad, Oliver Dennis, Raquel Duffy, Rachel Johnes, Gregory Prest, Paolo Santalucia, James Smith, Michaela Washburn, Sarah Wilson and Fiona Saunder DIRECTOR Tanja Jacobs SET DESIGNER Ken MacKenzie COSTUMES Shannon Lea Doyle SOUND DESIGN John Gzowski STAGE MANAGER Sarah Miller