By Émer O’Toole
American playwright Neil LaBute is known for dividing audiences, sometimes to the extent that people have left his shows mid performance and shouted ‘kill the playwright.’ Aaron Pennie’s adaptation of Reasons To Be Pretty at Websters Theatre was less controversial but it still contained the emotion of LaBute’s original version.
The play starts in the middle of an argument about a passive boyfriend’s offhand remark that his girlfriend has a ‘regular face’ and this seemingly innocent comment causes Greg (Kristopher Curran) and Steph’s (Cora McCormack) relationship to break down.
In typical LaBute fashion, the minimal set design gives mere suggestions of the bleak places Greg, Steph and their friends Kent (Paul Hernaes Barnes) and Carly (Sophie Meade) inhibit: a factory lunch room and the plastic chairs of a food court. Director Aaron Pennie also made a brief but humorous appearance as a janitor in a mini plot between scenes.
The play is a powerful exploration of our obsession with female beauty and the ramifications for women who have it as well as those who don’t.