THEATER REVIEW: Reasons To Be Pretty, by Neil LaBute
Neil LaBute’s Reasons To Be Pretty, playing at the Lyceum Theatre, is a pretty darn good two hours to spend in the theater.
At first I was worried that the play might fall into the clichéd (whether on stage, TV or movies) emasculation of the American male. You know the fellow, the “Everybody Love Raymonds” of this world, men afraid to speak up for fear that their wives-substituting-as-their-mommies will scold them? “Pretty” starts full throttle as Marin Ireland’s kinetic “Steph” fights with Thomas Sadoski’s soon-to-be bedraggled “Greg,” about a remark he’s made about her less-than-stellar beauty. But very soon the play opens up (director/actor Terry Kinney times the scenes perfectly so we don’t overstay our welcome on any one snippet) and while there’s a bit of caricature here and there, more questions are raised then answered as we flow from Greg’s faux pas into some dangerous relationship territory.
Wild fisticuffs in act 2 (the best scene of the play for me), solid casting of Steven Pasquale in the meaty role of “Kent” and Piper Perabo as a slightly scary “Carly” combined with the consistent LaBute breakneck word play will give you many reasons to see Reasons. I have heard an interesting theory about how LaBute tends to deliver good dialogue and interesting situations, only to leave the audience unfilled at the climax (let’s face it, none of us want to be left unfulfilled at our climax) but Reasons To Be Pretty delivers a solid ending, not a happy one to be sure, but realistic and worthy of all the twisty turns and ambiguities that love can throw at us when we attempt to explore our convictions or challenge them.