Review: reasons to be pretty (a play by Neil LaBute), Havana Restaurant

reasons to be pretty (a play by Neil LaBute), Havana Restaurant

Beyond YVR neglected to review this play last week, but luckily there are two more performances left.

My experience of Neil LaBute’s work is that although the plays take rather ordinary individuals in mundane situations, the drama and dialogue make them very interesting to watch. “reasons to be pretty” features four working-class characters in stalled and problematic relationships. Three of them work in a factory of some sort, and much of the dialogue occurs at meal breaks.

Greg is an ordinary, “aw shucks” type of guy, who is friends with a would-be Casanova type, Kent, a stereotypical good-looking jock who vacuously moves through life manipulating women. Kent (played by James Paladino) could be seen as a caricature, but most women can likely attest that is not necessarily the case. The two women characters, Steph (Greg’s girlfriend) and Carly (Kent’s wife), are close friends, and it is Carly’s report of what she heard Greg saying to Kent that sparks the initial confrontation. Kent sees Carly as a beautiful possession, and not surprisingly, holds rather conventional and exploitative attitudes towards women.

Is Greg just tolerating Steph, who perhaps is on the plain side compared to the unseen Crystal, a young, hot girl that has just joined the shipping department? But, as is often the case, Steph’s and Greg’s initial argument is not just about Greg saying 10 or 15 words. Steph feels alone, unappreciated, and stuck.

The drama proceeds, and nothing that happens is particularly surprising. The end of the play is not much of a cliffhanger, but that’s intentional.

I’d love to see the sequel, “reasons to be happy”, that revisits these characters four years later. But for now, “reasons to be pretty” is enjoyable and thought-provoking. It is produced by Fighting Chance Productions.

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