While the lead character in Neil LaBute’s “reasons to be pretty” gets dumped for calling his girlfriend’s face “regular,” this is definitely not just a “regular” production. This weekend, director Irene Casey ’14 and producer Shannon Csorny ’15 bring us their production of the relatively young show — and they don’t shy away from any of its visceral awkwardness. After Steph (Simone Policano ’16) breaks up with the show’s star, Greg (Ben Symons ’15), a lot of shit goes down in his life, both with Stephanie and with their best friends, Carly (Eden Ohayon ’14) and Kent (Spencer Klavan ’14). I think you should all see it: It’s pretty fucking good. Here are the reasons why:
1. You could learn how to insert curse words into almost every sentence. “You know … you swear a lot when you’re mad,” Greg says when his ranting, soon-to-be-ex girlfriend Steph finally takes a breath. I can only think of about one word that was not used, and you’d be offended if you saw it here. Though the abundant swearing seemed sometimes overkill and sometimes hilarious, it definitely made the characters more real.
2. The characters are just as fucked up as you are. The show opens with an altogether believable screaming match. It proceeds to highlight each character’s insecurities, and, at times, hits uncomfortably close to home.
3. The actors are phenomenal. Though the cast is small in number, comprised of only four people, each actor effectively conveys a rough and rounded character. Policano is particularly captivating. Though her character is sometimes a bitch and the show’s entire premise is a result of her overreaction, she completely becomes Steph in a manner that’s very relatable. Let’s just say I would be scared to pick a fight with that girl.
4. You get to witness an onstage fight. The direction of the fight scene between Greg and Kent is phenomenal. I am not sure if they were actually hitting each other or not -— that’s how good it was. Though the verbal sparring before the physical teeters between intense and ridiculous, the fight itself is thoroughly believable and entertaining.
5. You want to witness these sound effects and scene changes. To be honest, I thought they were a bit weird at first. When the characters are working or in a public place, there is a constant racket behind them. Ultimately, though, the background noise did add a lot to the otherwise barely changing scenery. Loud music plays with dark lighting, which snaps off when the scene starts and the stage is lit up. Sometimes, the actors are in character and do something weird like embrace, but at other moments, it is clear that they are just changing the set. I was intrigued by this choice. I found myself looking forward to what they would be doing between the scenes — each time was like a little surprise.
6. The play provides an interesting take on interactions between, and within, the sexes. These two couples have a lot of fucking issues. Meanwhile, Greg and Kent’s friendship is a central motif of the show. They go through everything together, from double dates to fist fights — and other guy stuff. On the other side of the spectrum, Steph only knows that her face is regular because Carly told her what she overheard Greg say. That seems like a good take on girl friendships too.
7. There are great allusions to other works. At one point, Greg, an avid reader, says he is reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark.” In that novel, the protagonist does everything he can to remove a small blemish from the otherwise perfect face of his wife. He ultimately kills her in this pursuit. I found this allusion to be one of the funniest parts of “reasons,” because although Greg keeps contending that he likes her face, his life sucks because Steph doesn’t buy it.
But I kinda do. “reasons” showcases a solid cast and a situation relevant to our lives — almost a little more relevant than we’d like.