Pin It
Favorite

THEATER | REASONS TO BE PRETTY 

Neil LaBute's raw and captivating look at our baser instincts

click to enlarge Jennie Oliver and Ryan Shore in Reasons to be Pretty. - DAN BAUMER
  • Dan Baumer
  • Jennie Oliver and Ryan Shore in Reasons to be Pretty.

It's understood that a Neil LaBute play titled Reasons to Be Pretty will provide anything but. Over his two-decade-plus career, the playwright and former Spokanite, most widely known for In the Company of Men and Your Friends & Neighbors, has fixated on our baser aspects, particularly as they come to bear in ostensibly close or romantic relationships. His characters are insecure, petty, arrogant, naive, deceitful, vain, callous, self-deluding, ineffectual; these flaws are weapons with the power to wound, intentionally or indiscriminately.

And so it is here. Greg (Ryan Shore; recently in Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde at Civic) and Steph (Molly Tage; Never the Sinner) immediately take the stage in a profanity-laden lover's quarrel. It concerns a careless remark to his pal and co-worker Kent (Nich Witham; The Glass Menagerie), whose wife, Carly (Jennie Oliver), overheard and quickly relayed it to Steph. Greg's offense — unforgivable in both women's eyes — is to have said that Steph's face was "regular" compared to the new girl at the depot where three of them work.

Shore plays a schlubby, perpetually contrite Greg as a fine counterpoint to Witham's Kent, whose sculpted pecs and hair belie (or bespeak) a swaggering, egocentric driver of events to which Greg must react. As Steph, Tage's voice was slightly attenuated on opening night, reducing some of the force she needs to browbeat Greg, but her hurt and anger are still palpable. Oliver, a newcomer to this stage, negotiates the challenges of her role well as she transitions into a sympathetic figure.

Photos of the chic and glamorous are posted all over the ash-gray set of this production, taut and charged under Dawn Taylor Reinhardt's direction. Intended as a reminder of the metric of beauty at the back of the characters' minds, these photos aren't necessary, and they distract from more subtle visual cues embedded in props and costumes. Like the script's monologues or its books/covers motif, there's a risk of losing something vital when putting too fine a point on any one idea of the many that make this such a raw and captivating play.

Reasons to Be Pretty • Through Feb. 15: Thu-Sat, 7:30 pm; Sun, 2 pm • $19-$25 • The Modern Theater Spokane • 174 S. Howard • 455-PLAY • themoderntheater.org

Pin It
Favorite

Latest in Arts & Culture

Readers also liked…

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
A Bright Room Called Day

A Bright Room Called Day @ South Perry Yoga

Fri., Aug. 25, 7:30-10 p.m. and Sat., Aug. 26, 7:30-10 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by E.J. Iannelli

  • Jake and Jill
  • Jake and Jill

    To play Tosca, soprano Jill Gardner had to learn how to hate her husband
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • Trailblazers
  • Trailblazers

    Million Dollar Quartet explores the magic of a legendary recording session in December 1956
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • When the Dead Lady Sings
  • When the Dead Lady Sings

    Redemption and rebirth make The Secret Garden "heavy with emotion" and worth seeing
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • More »

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation