By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
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.
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."
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.