Mark Rylance, Joanna Lumley and David Hyde Pierce are to star in Matthew Warchus’s new production of La Bête, which will play at the Comedy theatre from 26 June to 28 August (press night 7 July) prior to a Broadway transfer.
American playwright David Hirson’s 1991 comedy centres on Elomire (Pierce), a high-minded classical dramatist who loves only the theatre, and Valere (Rylance), a low-brow street clown who loves only himself. When the fickle princess (Lumley) decides she has grown weary of Elomire’s royal theatre troupe, he and Valere are left fighting for survival as art squares off with ego in a literary showdown for the ages.
Rylance is currently appearing in the West End in celebrated play Jerusalem, which has already earned him a Critics’ Circle Award, an Evening Standard Theatre Award and a nomination for Best Actor at the forthcoming Laurence Olivier Awards. The acclaimed actor, who was the inaugural Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe, has recent London stage credits including Endgame and Warchus’s production of Boeing-Boeing, which also transferred to Broadway and won him a Tony Award.
Actress and TV personality Lumley has previously been seen on the London stage in Blithe Spirit at the Vaudeville theatre and The Letter at the Lyric Hammersmith. Her extensive screen credits include the films Shirley Valentine, Trail Of The Pink Panther and The Tale Of Sweeney Todd, television series The New Avengers, Jam And Jerusalem, Sensitive Skin and the sitcom she is probably best known for, Absolutely Fabulous, in which she played Patsy.
Hyde Pierce is also well known for a long-running television series, Frasier, in which he played Niles. The American actor, who makes his West End debut in La Bête, won a Tony Award for his role in Curtains on Broadway, where he also starred in Monty Python’s Spamalot and Accent On Youth. In addition to his numerous off-Broadway and regional stage credits, Hyde Pierce’s screen work includes Little Man Tate, Sleepless In Seattle, Wolf, Down With Love and A Bug’s Life.
Warchus’s many West End productions include Boeing-Boeing, The Norman Conquests and God Of Carnage, all of which transferred to Broadway, the musicals Tell Me On A Sunday, Our House and The Lord Of The Rings, and many productions for the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
La Bête opens at the Comedy theatre following The Misanthrope and Mrs Warren’s Profession. Dates for the subsequent Broadway transfer are yet to be confirmed.