Thursday, October 14, 2010

LOGOS: La Bete

Tonight, the London smash and Broadway revival of La Bete opens at the Music Box Theatre for a limited run.  Directed by Matthew Warchus and starring Tony winners David Hyde Pierce and Mark Rylance as well as British TV icon Joanna Lumley, the show looks like a comedic romp from its awesome preview video (click HERE to see it).  I thought I'd take a look at how the show's logo fits the show it is advertising.

There are really two logos, though closely related.  First is the icon: a white background with black and primary colors that form a face along with the title.  The image is clear... a clown of sorts, and likely an old time one, given the crown, not one of the Ringling Brothers type.  The style, "painted/smudged", suggests a hurried/harried application of the clown make up.  That frenzied feel certainly plays into the reputation of clever and frantic comedy that the work has.  By itself, it works, but may not be enough to entice viewers.

The other logo, that adorns the Playbill and show card, as well as the street level advertising at the theatre, really works, though.  Smartly, the image is of the three stars as we know them: Pierce and Lumley would certainly appeal to theatre goers who like to see their favorite TV stars, while Rylance and Pierce would appeal to theatre goers who like to see accomplished stage actors.  Smart move, especially considering that the last time the show played Broadway it was a massive flop.  The stars' cache lends itself toward verification that the play itself is a viable entertainment.

It is what they have added to the photographic image that creates a real sense about the play itself.  Using different parts of the original logo, they have "graffitied" the photo.  The idea of doodling over a serious picture at once conjures thoughts of whimsy, funny business, and even bad manners! 

Of course, it also works towards defining the stars' roles in the show at the same time.  A clown's nose has been added to Rylance's face, appropriately, as he plays a low-brow clown in the show.  Similarly, Lumley is given a crown, and she plays a princess.  And Pierce is given a fine moustache, befitting of a gentleman during a time period long ago; Pierce, fittingly, plays a classic dramatist, a gentleman if ever there was one.

The logo with the photo really has me even more interested in this highly theatrical outing.  I hope I can squeeze it in before it closes in January.


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