I would never have been brave enough to get tickets for opening night. They cost a fortune, and what if it turned out to be a complete dog? But a friend courageously bought four –and what a night it was. Mark Rylance, the Lionel Messi of the acting world, gave a mind-boggling performance. Poor Niles Crane from Frasier (David Hyde Pierce) had to make do with standing on stage for forty minutes while Rylance transformed himself into a human fireworks display. It wasn’t the easiest of jobs, but DHP pulled it off. (Joanna Lumley, not so much.)

Now. I know it’s deeply boring to read about a play you’re probably never going to see (there are a very few tickets left for the run, but you’ll have to be quick; it’s headed for Broadway after only ten weeks in London) but I mention it for the following reason: the play posits an oposition between a wildly charismatic idiot (Rylance) and a man of literary and intellectual integrity (Pierce). At the end of the play, the fool ‘wins’ (does Rylance ever lose?) and our man of integrity is cast out into darkness. It’s like watching a stand-off between Project Runway and Hamlet.

But who does the audience root for? Who has our sympathy? Uncomfortably (and rather brilliantly) the answer is not nearly as straightforward as one might hope. I’m still pondering whose side I’m on 12 hours later, which surely must be the sign of a great night at the theatre.

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4 thoughts on “La Bete

  1. Geraldine Bedell 6 years ago

    Sounds wonderful. After I hit send here I am off to try to get tickets. I am quite often spooked and disconcerted by Mark Rylance (not in a good way) but you have persuaded me

    1. Meg 6 years ago

      He is very spooky and disconcerting in this. But very funny too. It’s not a perfect play, but I think it’s a must-see.

  2. Peter Smith 6 years ago

    Well, it is a great play, I saw it last night and greatly enjoyed it as did all the audience, but let’s get the facts straight, please!

    It is not on for “only six weeks in London” as it is closing on 4th September – i.e. ten weeks. And I would not say “there are a very few tickets left for the run” as they are running specials all around, hence loads of tickets are still available for what is for sure going to be a memorable production and not one to miss.

    As for Broadway, last time this play opened there in 1991 at Eugene O’Neill Theatre it closed after 25 performances only. Let’s hope it is going to be better this time.

  3. Meg 6 years ago

    Thanks for that Peter, and sorry for errors. I’ve been trying to book four tickets between now and end of July and have had no luck. There are a very few, mostly obscured view. Haven’t checked August, maybe there are more available then.

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