La Belle Et La Bête at ArtsEmerson

Let me first say, that as a whole, I did not enjoy this production. It was branded at “Beauty And The Beast” with the title in French, but the show itself was a very very modern interpretation of the production.

La Belle Et La Bête is performed by a French company from Montreal. They wrote the script for this production in French and translated it to English for American audiences.

The advertising for this production focused on the technical aspect and the 4D projection art utilized in this performance. The projections for this production were phenomenal. The projections designer deserves a raise. The use of these projections really brought the show to a whole new level. To go along with the projections, the sound design was also incredible. I am not sure if all the music used in the production was originally created for La Belle Et La Bête, but I’m sure some of it was. Really really great sound design.

I did have a problem with the conventional lighting used in the show. The “storyteller” stood in almost the same position the entire show, far downstage right. To light her, the lighting designer chose to use three fixtures, one from either side and one from the front. The blocking of this actress was so far downstage that most of the proscenium arch was lit for most of the performance. This drew me out of the world of the play. The projections did a great job of taking me out of my seat and into a world that wasn’t inside a theatre. The lighting brought me back to the Majestic.

Also with the lighting, in the early scenes of this production, The Beast’s face is not supposed to be seen. I could clearly see his face under his cloak at early parts of the performance. This disappointed me, because the reveal of his face is supposed to be a big dramatic moment. It was not because we had already seen his face due to the lighting.

Here’s where the real problem comes in. The translation. This show really should have been performed in French with English subtitles. The translation of the text made it hard to follow at some points. Plus, the book itself isn’t phenomenal. I did not enjoy the storyline. The book may have ruined Beauty and the Beast for me. They made the show about a creepy guy who won’t show his face and prostitution. The spine of the performance was definitely about scars/wounds; emotionally and  physically. That definitely showed throughout the production.

I am disappointed. Definitely the worst show I have ever seen by a professional company. This goes to show you not to go into a performance with certain expectations. There was a lot of hype surrounding the production, and it turned into disappointment.