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Reasons To Be Pretty
a Dark Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Neil LaBute

COMPANY : Pinch n' Ouch Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Hertz Stage [WEBSITE]
ID# 3697

SHOWING : June 09, 2010 - June 27, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

REASONS TO BE PRETTY introduces us to a blue-collar, everyman named Greg, who really, truly adores his girlfriend, Steph. Unfortunately, he also thinks she has a few physical imperfections, and when he casually mentions them, all hell breaks loose. A hopelessly romantic drama about the hopelessness of romance, REASONS TO BE PRETTY is a gorgeous play.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Sean Gallagher
Assistant Stage Manager Ian David Anthony
Fight Director John Evenden
Stage Hand Kelly Greene
Stage Manager Redd Horrocks
Stage Hand Melissa Oulton
Kent Grant McGowen
Stephanie Rachel Richards
Carly Bree Shannon
Greg Jacob York
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REVIEWS

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High Maintenance
by Dedalus
Thursday, July 1, 2010
4.0
About a year ago, I wrote a “From the Bookshelf” piece praising the script of Neil LaBute’s “reasons to be pretty.” I concluded that the script and characters were sharp and compelling, and I looked forward to seeing a local production. That production is here, and it brings with it a young new company, intriguingly calling themselves “Pinch n’ Ouch Theatre.” (I’ve since learned that “Pinch n’ Ouch” is an acting exercise devised by Sanford Meisner and his disciples, so you know we’re dealing with people who take their acting seriously.)

This production lives up to my expectations of this piece, tackling and defeating its challenges with aplomb. The production is funny, profane, moving, and driven, masking its sly themes with a loud patina of anger and more anger. These characters look and talk like real people, LaBute’s naturalistic dialogue giving them full dimensions, attractive and not-so-much.

At the start, we are plunged into a no-holds-barred fight between Greg and Steph, their relationship exploding in a maelstrom of misunderstanding, thoughtless offhand remarks, and oversensitivity. It seems that Greg commented about how glad he was that Steph “looks regular,” rather than being an over-the-top beauty. Of course, Steph takes this to mean “You hate my face,” all evidence to the contrary. Of course she comes across in the scene like a high-maintenance shrill and Greg comes across like a clueless foot-in-mouth noodge, but, the cause of the fight is not REALLY what the fight is all about.

In any case, the relationship is over, although neither can really move on. The play follows them as they, more or less, “grow up” (LaBute has called this a “coming of age” play). Along the way they are not-really-helped and sorta-kinda-hindered by their closest friends, Kent and Carly, who are married, but not as happily as they seem. Over the course of two hours, we see these four characters deal with everything not expressed (or badly expressed), deal with their jobs and friendships and families, and deal with all the adult craziness they’ve, by habit, hid from or “swept under the rug.” And they come to terms with how much they’ve let appearance, “prettiness” as it were, really uglify their lives.

When I wrote about the script, I commented that two challenges would be to make Steph and Kent likeable, since we see them at their worst throughout. LaBute’s script let each character have their “moment of truth,” monologue in which they express themselves alone to the audience, telling not-so-much the truth as much as what they wanted to believe. These monologues have been cut in this production, either by author revision or by director’s choice, though some (unfortunately not all) of the choice lines from them have been interpolated into various scenes (I’m especially glad they managed to save Kent’s “Behind every pretty woman you’ll find a guy who’s tired of f#%^ing her.”).

Fortunately, this is a cast who are up to the challenges. Rachel Richards gives Steph a vulnerability that is evident from her first fight that pays off as we learn more about what is really making her so crazy. Grant McGowen gives enough boyish charm to Kent to make us sorta kinda like him in spite of his macho posturing and cold-hearted selfishness. The too-pretty-for-words Bree Dawn Shannon is not afraid of showing the uglier side of the too-pretty-for-words Carly, and still manages to move us as her marriage crumbles around her.

But this is Greg’s story, and Jacob York is a tremendously likeable actor, mining the lines for every confused nuance, for every befuddled laugh, for every through-the-heart misunderstanding. He plays exceedingly well with his cast mates, and I look forward to seeing more of his work.

If I have one complaint about the production (apart from the missing segments of the published script), it is that the production design required long scene changes that tended to slow things down just as they were heating up. True, everything looked good (a protean wall unit playing many functions, a more-or-less permanent lunch-room corner, a background fence behind which sit bunches of packing boxes to be unloaded on-the-job by Greg and Kent), and the shifts weren’t excessively long – just long enough to be noticed.

Still, the scenes themselves charged aggressively from beat to beat, the youth and energy of the cast getting them from fight to fight with only a minimum of blood, sweat, and tears. For my money, the evening ended far too soon, and it wasn’t just because Greg’s final monologue was cut. This is a charming cast playing uncharming characters with a wit and conviction that I find absolutely compelling.

And, truth to tell, they were all pretty in their own way, even those sporting a “regular face.” Which, I suspect, underscores LaBute’s point -- that prettiness is more a factor of affection and kindness and experience than it is a factor of bone structure and skin tone.

Still, the as@#$le who first invented mirrors has a lot to answer for.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

Note: This production is being staged on the Woodruff Art Center’s Hertz Stage.

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Great Production!
by St. Genesius
Friday, June 25, 2010
5.0
This production really exceeded my expectations. Pinch n' Ouch is a new, young theater group, but they did an outstanding job with 'Reasons to be Pretty' that I will def come see their next show as well.

Having seen a LaBute play before I was expecting something heavy - which this show does present but I laughed so much from the beg to the end - mostly with Jacob York's natural and honest portryal of a man trying to understand women and be true to himself. The entire cast was outstanding.

Beyond the play something that really caught my attention was how young the audience was. Typically many local professional and community theaters survive off a more mature subscriber base, but this audience had many 20s-30s in the seats - something other theaters would kill for.

Basically - Welcome to Atlanta Pinch n' Ouch - your fresh talent is warmly welcomed and if you haven't seen this show, it will make you love theater all over again and maybe in a whole new way. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Do not be afraid to laugh - our darkest moments can be funny!
by ilovetheartsandtheater
Friday, June 11, 2010
4.5
I have seen over 100 plays/shows, mostly on Broadway in NYC.
This show is Broadway quality...on the dark edgy side of life.
I love the venue; the Hertz Stage is a nice suprise to my friends, clean (yes I said that), comfortable, friendly ushers and modern.
You can even have a glass of wine and snack while enjoying the show.
I had heard that Neil LaBute, the playwright, had earned three Tony nominations for this show.
So I was curious.
Mr.LaBute writes in "real life",not "soap opera" dialogue.
The actors were so good that I felt like I was spying on four peoples lives.
I wondered, worried, laughed, cried and was even angry - all in 2 hours.
The show is about four people in blue collar jobs that are learning their boundaries in life: what is okay to say or do in a relationship and what the consequences can be.
You will come out of the show with opinions about each character's lives.
Do not be afraid to laugh - our darkest moments can be funny! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

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