"You are the lucky one with your Fitzdare. She is a treasure. Of such tantalising beauties, it fair make me weep. God speed you on your way into such dear arms."
"Beefy would you be my best man."
"Nothing in this world give me more profound pleasure."
"Is there anything I can do for you Beefy."
"Yes. I should adore to quaff a bottle of champagne. In these testing times."
This cozy narrow sitting room. Drapes aflutter with a summer breeze. And Dublin lies out there. For all it's worth. It will speak to you when one is least ready to listen. The champagne comes. A smallish boy enjoying this duty. Making a little cascade and popping the cork across the room.
"To you Balthazar. Fitzdare. And many little Balthazars."
"Thank you Beefy."

- J.P. Donleavy from The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B

This review first appeared in The Times (London) January 20, 1981.

"The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B"

by Ned Chaillet

DUKE OF YORK'S
With a cast sizable enough for a musical and locations ranging from Trinity College, Dublin, to Harrods and a house in Knightsbridge, The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B is a real rarity: a roaring sentimental comedy with a ravenous appetite for life, lovingly created for the West End theatre.

In many ways it is a characteristic display of J.P. Donleavy's earthy preoccupations and poetic aspirations. Balthazar is a rather beautiful and vague young man, rumoured to be a prince and languorously ensconced at Trinity.His uneventful progress through biology is suddenly disrupted by arrival of an old school friend, the boisterous, flamboyant and profane Beefy, a student of theology.

While Balthazar moves romantically into a relationship with the elegant Elizabeth Fitzdare, Beefy burst into his rooms with women concealed in a trunk and a strong box full of £5 notes. In a manic scene, complete with chains and suggestions of very strange sexual inclinations, Simon Callow turns Beefy into a loveable ruffian. Against all odds the harnesses every excessive word and gesture and creates an oversized representation of the life force. None the less, the flaunting of Trinity's rules sends both men into the real world prematurely.

Scenes are linked by poetic and ironical musings from Balthazar, as his life and Beefy's spiral downwards from that moment of peace and raucous comedy in Dublin. Disinherited, Beefy is next seen in Harrod's, as a labourer keeping an appointment, with Balthazar, and the eccentric charm of the play and Mr. Callow's performance is best revealed in that scene. Recounting his fall from grace, Beefy uses his usual blunt terminology, summarizing his sexual an social situation in terms that draw rebukes from an elderly lady sitting near by.

Not every minor character has the exact tone of Sylvia Coleridge's elderly lady, but Mr. Donleavy's touches give every scene the potential for such charm, with prying hotel porters and a stripper who takes every remark personally and responds in kind. Patrick Ryecart is wanly sympathetic and touching as Balthazar, a more obvious victim of circumstances than Beefy, but they are the flipsides of the same coin of personality and privilege.

The range of emotion in the production by Ron Daniels is very delicately modulated but the effect is strongly an affirmation of life and the varieties of love, from the coarse to the sublime.

To purchase books by J.P. Donleavy, go to
the
Buyers' Guide.

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