Theatre Mirror Reviews - "La Bette"

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entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"La Bete"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at the University of Rhode Island is David Hirson's, "La Bete". It is an interesting but wordy comedy written in verse with only three characters in almost the whole first act but they keep your interest throughout. The talents of the 17 students in the cast plus wonderful direction, costuming, set and lighting, help to make this production another feather in their collective caps.

The time is 1654. Elomire ( Elizabeth Gotauco) heads an acting troupe, which survives through the patronage of Prince Conti (Ryan Patrick Kenny). The prince forces a street performer, Valere (Adam Wasserman) upon her troupe. Valere has a very long monologue which goes on for most of the first act about life and love. Elomire and her second in command, Bejart(Francis Boyle) are appalled by this egomaniac who never shuts up. The prince forces Elomire to let Valere perform his play and the troupe enjoys the experience. The ensuing debate is should morality and philosophy be replaced by mediocrity and foolishness or can the world accept all kinds of "art"?The audience is left to decide which point of view do they agree with.

Adam gives a tour de force performance as Valere. His monologue is outstanding. Director Anthony Estrella has Adam move about the stage like a whirling dervish, climbing stairs, chairs, tables and running all around the area. Adam uses many facial expressions and nuances to sell this over the top character and he wins the approval of the crowd with his antics. Elizabeth delivers the goods as the serious minded, Elomire (an anagram for the French playwright, Moliere) Her part is less flashy but she shows her acting strength in the delivery of her lines, making her a formidable foe for Valere. Francis plays her assistant, Bejart who agrees with Elomire about Valere but argues with her about theatre which sets up the future battle between serious and comic viewpoints later in the show. He does well in this role, showing how he is torn between the two of them but makes the necessary decision to save the whole troupe.

Ryan Kenny gives a wonderful portrayal of the demanding Prince. He wants the show to go and he decides what is good or bad. Ratkanhnha Siv plays the comic Dorine who pops in and out of the show, jumping on chairs and stairs, only saying words that rhyme with blue including shoe and new. The rest of the troupe are played splendidly by Kristine Danielian, Keith Ryan Hanson, Courtney Fabrizio, Sean McConaghy and Melissa Banks. The other 7 students are in a preshow which includes jugglers, acrobats and a stilt walker. (Patrick Cullen who plays this latter role, played the role of Kurt in "The Sound Of Music" which I directed in 1994.)

Anthony Estrella not only does a fantastic job with all the students in this show but words of praise shoud go to the wonderful set of a 17th century theatre by Christian Wittwer, the breathtakingly, gorgeous and colorful costumes by David Howard and the mood inducing lighting of David Roy. Be sure to catch this stunning show at URI Theater, you won't be disappointed in this top notch show.

LA BETE (20 February - 1 March)
1 (401) 874-5843

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide