Chicago Theater Review: LA BÊTE (Trap Door Theatre)

Post image for Chicago Theater Review: LA BÊTE (Trap Door Theatre)

by Tony Frankel on April 9, 2015

in Theater-Chicago


From left to right Ann Sonneville as Princess, Marzena Bukowska as Catherine, Bill Gordon as Du Parc, and Skye Fort as Madeline.Even though it’s written in mostly rhymed couplets of iambic pentameter, David Hirson’s 1991 play, La Bête, is by far the least avant-garde presentation at Trap Door I have seen. That means those who have been reticent to sample the East European alternate theater company can rest assured this is a most accessible show. Even as the second act takes a surprisingly dark turn, lovers of language and comedy are well-advised to check out this romp.

We are conveyed to 17th century meta-Molière France in the parlor of Princess Conti, a patron of the arts. She has declared that Valere, a street performer whose shows she’s enjoyed, join her royal troupe in the hopes of loosening up high-minded Elomire, who heads her crew of professional actors. Knowing that the Princess’s main source of entertainment is the troupe’s only financial resource, Elomire nonetheless tries to persuade his friend and fellow actor Bejart to get rid of the boisterous and idiotic Valere, who shows just how abrasive, arrogant and completely insufferable he is in a monologue that takes up a majority of Act I.

Mike Mazzocca as De Brie, Marzena Bukowska as Catherine, Casey Chapman as Bejart, Skye Fort as Madeline, Bill Gordon as Du Parc, and Kevin Cox as Valere (in front).

Unlike his contemporary David Ives, Hirson’s dialogue is technically remarkable, but not genuinely dramatic. When Elomire suggests in Act II that Valere perform for the Princess, you would think that watching the newly invited flatulent egotist perform one of his own lousy plays—here called The Parable of Two Boys from Cadiz—would be a laugh-riot. Not really. The play loses steam as Hirson attempts to turn the play into a more serious debate about art and ethics.

From left to right Ann Sonneville as Princess, Marzena Bukowska as Catherine, Bill Gordon as Du Parc, and Skye Fort as Madeline.

Still, under director Kay Martinovich, a most game and fetching ensemble, attired in Rachel Sypniewski’s Technicolor frou-frou and frippery, wins us over. Kevin Cox is joyfully funny as the pretentious street entertainer, Valere, and delivers that extraordinarily long monologue amazingly well. It’s a treat to watch him commending his own genius, divvying out sporadic moments of made-up modesty, and revealing himself to be an egregious ass.

Casey Chapman as Bejart and Jesse Dornan as Elomirephotos by Michal Janicki

La Bête
Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland
Thurs-Sat at 8
ends on April 25, 2015 EXTENDED to May 2, 2015
for tickets, call 773-384-0494 or visit Trap Door

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

Leave a Comment