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Fringe Review: The Beast’s Library

By Colin Noden on June 15, 2018

Image courtesy of Ottawa Fringe Festival

The Beast’s Library
by Ryan Borochovitz, Caitlin Hart and Letycia Henriques
Sad Ibsen Theatre

60 min / Comedy, Parody / Mature

This new work by Sad Ibsen Theatre takes Beauty and The Beast and gives it a squinty eyed 21st century examination. Then tosses in almost all western philosophical thought, in the form of The Beast’s library. How Belle reacts to this trove is the basis of the parody which follows. The result is hilarious and makes the term sophomoric a compliment.

But before my mind joins Gaston and The Beast offstage for an “expectoration contest” I must start with the quality of the acting. The actress who performed Belle was captivating in her physical communication and understated manner. The Beast’s charisma instantly lifted the room. And Gaston? Well, I wouldn’t still be thinking of expectoration contests without him.

I need to mention philosophy. It’s essential to the storyline. But there are a lot of inside jokes and dense quotations in this play. The opening night audience seemed stacked with friends and philosophy majors. So the laughter came fast and loud whenever there were little ironic philosophical references. But I wonder how this is going to play to a general audience. My hunch is their brains are going to hit pause until the next line. Lucky for them, the moral of the story is easy to understand.

Exposing yourself to thoughts on the human condition can improve your own condition. Being disciplined in thought will lead to liberation and fulfillment. OK that sounds boring, but not when Belle is describing it to the support cast (furniture…you know the story). There is even a little discussion with Mrs. Potts which touches on gender identification. This sure ain’t your gramma’s fairy tail.

But it is a fairy tale. You take all western thought, put it in a blender, and out comes a delicious Marxist smoothie. Everyone leaves the stage happy and at peace with who they are. As for me? I’ve read the philosophy, now I’m tempted to take up “expectorating”.


The Beast’s Library by Ryan Borochovitz, Caitlin Hart and Letycia Henriques is playing at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave) until Sunday June 24, 2018. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the show schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.