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REVIEW: reasons to be pretty (Profiles Theatre)

| January 29, 2011 | 1 Comment
     
     

Profiles masterfully explores the power of being ‘pretty’ vs. ‘regular’

     
     

Darrel W. Cox and Darci Nalepa in Neil LaBute's 'reasons to be pretty' at Profiles Theatre.  Photo by Wayne Karl.

   
Profiles Theatre presents
  
reasons to be pretty
   
Written by Neil LaBute
Directed by
Rick Snyder 
at
Profiles Theatre, 4147 N. Broadway (map)
thru March 13  |  tickets: $35-$40  |  more info

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

He will hurt you. He’s a guy. It’s a done deal!

Profiles Theatre presents the Chicago premiere of reasons to be pretty.  Greg dates Steph. His best friend is Kent. Kent is married to Carly. Carly is best friends with Steph. Greg and Kent ogle over the new eye candy at work. Greg offhandedly compares her beautiful face to Steph’s ‘regular’ face. When a guy slams his girlfriend within earshot of her gal pal, the comment will be repeated and repeated and repeated. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But what if the beholder has small, squinty eyes? And what’s ‘regular’ anyway? On the surface, reasons to be pretty is an unattractive expose on men’s shallow nature. At the heart of it, reasons to be pretty is one man’s quest to confront his own inner beauty.

Darrel W. Cox and Darci Nalepa in Neil LaBute's 'reasons to be pretty' at Profiles Theatre.  Photo by Wayne Karl.Playwright Neil LaBute keeps it real with machete-sharp dialogue and imperfect characters. LaBute creates a moment in a relationship and drops the audience into the crossfire. The banter engages so authentically that one feels as if they are in-the-room, wanting to interject a helpful ‘tell her….’ during the confrontations. Despite the various piercing altercations, the drama is funny. LaBute crafts in comedic lines to soften the blows. Director Rick Snyder keeps the wrath at a frenzy, interspersed with breaths of humor. Snyder paces the show tight with conversations quipping along and scene shifts signaled with a buzzard and minimal prop modification.

Profiles Theatre must pick their play choices to showcase the resident divo. reasons to be pretty follows the pattern. Darrell W. Cox is excellent! He starts and ends the play with monologues delivered so perfectly natural it creates an autobiographical feel. He struggles with guilt in a bumbling and endearing manner. LaBute wrote Steph and Carly as strong women. Some men might say ‘regular’ bitches but most women are more inclined to see them as inspiring. Darci Nalepa embraces and emboldens in a food court scene that is every female’s fantasy. Nalepa balances the vulnerability and confidence with glimpses of tears behind a veil of rage. Somer Benson (Carly) is a facade of smug self-righteousness pushing for the truth to be known. Although her words are always sharply direct, Benson quivers memorably facing her own worst fears. Christian Stolte (Kent) schmucks it up to a very unattractive level. Stolte is disgusting… as a vulgar, objectifying prick.

Color it, tweeze it, lift it… men may be the catalyst for the never-ending beauty quest, but the standard is mirrored by women. There is plenty of “reasons to be pretty”! There are even more “reasons to be pretty nice”! This show examines what’s going on below the surface in relationships and attitudes. The ugly truth is some people don’t think YOU are pretty enough. Seeing this show will help you determine if s/he is sitting next to you.

  
  

Rating: ★★★½

   
   

Darrell W. Cox, Christian Stolte and Somer Benson in Neil LaBute's 'reasons to be pretty' at Profiles Theatre.  Photo by Wayne Karl.

Production photos courtesy of Wayne Karl.

 reasons to be pretty, by by Neil LaBute, continues through March 13th at Profiles Theatre, 4147 N. Broadway.  Performance dates/times are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 7pm.  Running Time: ninety minutes with no intermission.  More info at Profiles’ website.

 

Artists

 

CAST: Profiles ensemble members Somer Benson and Darrell W. Cox along with guest artists Darci Nalepa and Christian Stolte.

DESIGNERS: Stephen Carmody (set), Jess Harpeneau (lights), Myron Elliott (costumes), Jeffrey Levin (sound and original music) and the stage manager is Corey Weinberg.


 

Playwright and Director Bios

NEIL LABUTE (Playwright) is a writer, director, filmmaker and playwright.  He received his Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing from New York University and was the recipient of a literary fellowship to study at the Royal Court Theatre, London and also attended the Sundance Institute’s Playwrights Lab. His films include: “In the Company of Men” (New York Critics’ Circle Award for Best First Feature and the Filmmakers’ Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival), “Your Friends and Neighbors,” “Nurse Betty,” “Possession,” “The Shape of Things” (a film adaptation of his play by the same title), “The Wicker Man,” “Lakeview Terrace,” and “Death at a Funeral.” LaBute’s plays include: Bash: Latter-Day Plays, The Shape of Things, The Mercy Seat, The Distance From Here, Autobahn (a collection of five of his one- act plays), Fat Pig, Wrecks, Some Girl(s), This is How it Goes, In a Dark Dark House and reasons to be pretty, which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. His newest play The Break of Noon, premiered at MCC Theater in October 2010.  LaBute is also the author of several fictional pieces that have been published in “The New York Times,” “The New York Times Magazine,” “Harper’s Bazaar,” and “Playboy” among others. “Seconds of Pleasure,” a collection of his short stories, was published by Grove Atlantic.

RICK SNYDER (Director): Steppenwolf ensemble member Rick Snyder is the director of reasons to be prettyHe returns to Profiles after directing their hit production of Killer Joe which won Jeff Awards for Outstanding Production, Director and Actor.  Most recently, he directed Oleanna and Speed the Plow at American Theatre Company.  Other recent productions include directing Art at Steppenwolf, Mauritius at Northlight Theatre, The Lion in Winter at Writers’ Theatre, The Actor at the Goodman Theatre and ARISTOCRATA at Strawdog Theatre. He has also directed Betrayal at Steppenwolf, Jolly and The Disappearance of the Jews at the Goodman, St. Scarlet at ATC, Bus Stop at Writers’ Theatre and Last of the Boys at Steppenwolf. Other directing credits at Steppenwolf include Tavern Story, Things Being What They Are, Orange Flower Water (which traveled to the Galway Arts Festival), and The Fall to Earth. He currently teaches Directing 1 at Columbia College in Chicago. Rick has been a member of the Steppenwolf ensemble since 1983, and an instructor for The School at Steppenwolf and Associate Artist at Steppenwolf for the last ten years.


3 WORDS: A woman beautiful inside and out, Jasleen describes it with ‘dark relationship humor.’
  
  

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Category: 2011 Reviews, Katy Walsh, Profiles Theatre

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