Les Miz, Oui; La Bete, Non

Some misery you enjoy. Some comedy is just miserable.

After a dinner party, Elomire is subjected to a 30-minute monologue by Valere, extolling his own virtues as the writer of plays called The Dying Clown and Death by Cheese.

Valere is an egotistical idiot, saying things like "There's nothing but a space between my ears/One time I had amnesia in Algiers." That's actual dialogue in La Bête. Now multiply that by 120 minutes.

The 400-line opening speech by Valere should be hilarious — those who saw great British actor Mark Rylance perform the role in the 2010 Broadway revival say he made it a scream — but Campbell merely achieves hirsute silliness. He plays Valere as a cross between Bert Lahr and Louie Anderson.

"One Day More" and one year more as Les Miz continues its 25th anniversary tour, now at the Winspear.
ATTPAC
"One Day More" and one year more as Les Miz continues its 25th anniversary tour, now at the Winspear.

Details

Les Misérables continues through January 1 at the Winspear Opera House. Call 214-880-0202. La Bête continues through January 14 at Theatre Three. Call 214-871-3300.

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An elderly princess (Georgia Clinton) toddles on to exacerbate the rivalry between Elomire and Valere. Much gesturing with white handkerchiefs ensues. And about another hour of the rhyming crapoiserie, which resorts to such lazy wordplay as "Cleopatra/tit-for-tatra."

Scenery by David Walsh turns the T3 stage into a faux marble replica of a 1960s gay bath house. Period costumes by Bruce Coleman mix many fabrics — but all the wrong ones.

La Bête argues that high culture will always be trumped by low, that the Valeres will eventually make the Elomires obsolete. That's true enough. We see it in all media. And from that Theatre Three should learn its lesson. Instead of going for high art, they're far better equipped for Death by Cheese.

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