For some reason, U.S critics are responding a lot more favorably to La Bete than the British did over the summer. To no one’s surprise, Mark Rylance’s performance is garnering a lot of critical acclaim and praise:
Mark Rylance is a fool’s fool. Belching, bragging, accompanying his own self-aggrandizing soliloquies with stunning four-part flatulence, he tears into the first half of La Bête, David Hirson’s 1991 meta-Molière oddity, with a 400-line megalogue. In rhymed couplets. Not a syllable of which, I’m happy to report, isn’t uproarious. With all due respect to his excellent co-stars, David Hyde Pierce and Joanna Lumley, and the fine ensemble that embroiders the show’s frilly edges, Rylance is clearly the show’s raison d’être. His performance as the irresistibly loathsome street clown Valere — a lowbrow bête noire visited upon the tidy playwright Elomire (Pierce) — is the grand prize at the bottom of a box of confetti. (New York Mag, 10/14/10)
La Bete is a beautiful piece of art about the existential traps built into making beautiful art. (The Atlantic, 10/12/10)
In the revival that opened Thursday night at the Music Box, the rest of us get to judge whether the play deserved better. And on the basis of director Matthew Warchus’s stylish production, featuring a sensational turn by a clown from outer space, Mark Rylance, one can say categorically, unequivocally, that “La Bête” is one half of a surefire evening.
The good stuff begins the instant Rylance starts jabbering — an act he keeps up virtually nonstop for 40 riotous minutes — and ends with the marvelous entrance of Joanna Lumley as a French royal arriving in a tornado of glitter. Then, stack by stack, the meticulously amassed comic riches are subtracted, in a plot that shrivels up into limp satire and facile posturing. One comes to see why the play faded away quickly the first time around. (The Washington Post, 10/15/10)
But early in the work comes a jolt of Adrenalin: Mark Rylance (“Boeing-Boeing”) appears wearing a pair of terrible false teeth and delivers an astonishing, 20-minute soliloquy that leaves audiences in hysterics, stunned and cheering.
He almost steals the show, but there’s more: David Hyde Pierce (“Spamalot,” TV’s “Frasier”) is also onboard, at his subtle, arch best, and Joanna Lumley (TV’s “Absolutely Fabulous”) gives a spiky, haughty performance as the princess.
….Much will be made of Rylance’s initial monologue, an exhausting piece of acrobatic wordplay that threatens to destabilize the rest of the play. He emerges spitting melon, burps, scratches himself and even defecates in a chamber pot — all while delivering a torrent of words in a slightly crazed, California surfer-dude accent.
He is boastful and pompous, falsely modest and offensive. He rudely complains about the lavish dinner that was served in his honor (especially the “acidic vinaigrette”), he lectures without knowing what he’s talking about, makes up his own terms (he likes “verbobos” instead of “words” because it’s more cheery) and never lets anyone else get in a word — sorry “verbobos.” (NOLA, 10/14/10)
But the show belongs to British star Rylance, who won a Tony for “Boeing-Boeing.” As Valere, he makes his entrance spitting out slices of melon, burping, farting and even worse. It’s no fluke that the show curtain is illustrated with what looks like a stomach-shaped caption balloon filled with words.
By far, Valere’s worst characteristic is that he jibber-jabbers nonstop and nonsensically about his art, especially in a brain-dizzying speech that lasts close to half an hour. Rylance, hair scraggly, teeth protruding, delivers it with so much finesse you shake with laughter. Days later, it still cracks me up when I think about his performance. (NY Daily News, 10/15/10)
I can’t really tell from Ben Brantley‘s review in the New York Times whether he liked “La Bete” or not. But the sizzling play opened on Broadway last night and Mark Rylance gave a tour de force performance. He is just sensational as Valere, and audiences will love David Hyde Pierce and Joanna Lumley (famous from “Absolutely Fabulous”).
Early on in David Hirson‘s 1991 play, Rylance makes his appearance and gives what amounts to a 30 minute comic monologue. It only seems like a dialogue because Hyde Pierce, who is with him on the scene, manages to take his character’s stunned silence and turn it into conversation. By the time Lumley enters–and she has some spectacular entry–the audience is mesmerized and exhausted. (Showbiz 411, 10/15/10)
He’s been described as the new Olivier, but I don’t recall Olivier ever taking on the Jerry Lewis role in Boeing Boeing or playing a street clown who spits, farts, and spews rhymed couplets of narcissistic nonsense in La Bete.Mark Rylance has done that–and more–throwing himself fearlessly into anything that lets him show his healthy love of theatrical playfulness.
In La Bete–the revival of a play that failed almost 20 years ago on Broadway–he’s a 17th Century French buffoon who speaks in 20-minute or so monologues that he makes riveting, hilarious, and likable, even though his character uses works of literature for toilet paper. (The Village Voice, 10/15/10)
and there’s many more reviews online. There is one article about Mark Rylance at Newsday, but unfortunately I am not a subscriber. If anyone of you are subscribed to Newsday, please copy and paste the article to me so I can post it on the Mark Rylance Fan Page. Thanks.