Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pretty and Witty and Not Particularly Gay

Thursday night I went to see Reasons To Be Pretty at the Lyceum. I had a very nice time with my friend Sarah, who I've learned is even a bigger Theater Dork than I am, but we have similar sensibilities making the viewing experience so much fun. Reasons to Be Pretty is the new play by Neil LaBute who has written such feel-good fare as The Shape of Things, Fat Pig and In The Company of Men. I was accordingly prepared to walk away from this play with a few new reasons to hate the human condition. However, I was mightily surprised! The play actually is kinda hopeful in the end. Don't worry LaBute fans. On the way to a bit of maturity at the end the play still has the requisite men who act like children and bitchy women with image issues. But it had some nice things to say about men and women actually coming to understand each other in a non-hateful way. Very nice.

While I liked the play itself, the production, which is still in previews, was rather uneven. I thought all the actors were very good. I just thought Act I clipped by at actually too fast a pace. The dialogue had a bit of a manic delivery about it. It didn't feel like what they were saying was unbelievable, it was just too quick. It sounded a little too clever. I wanted it to have more room to breathe. Act II was much better in that regard. I felt like things developed more organically. The one problem with Act II was that there was a big fight scene that was very awkwardly staged. It was very obvious that the punches were not landing. It took me out of the moment. My problems with the play though will probably lessen as the run goes on. The ingredients for a good production are there, they just haven't found their footing yet. Given a little more time, I'm sure they will.

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