Monday, 2 November 2015

Reasons to be Pretty - Neil LaBute. Staged at the Almeida Theatre, November 2011.

Before the play starts there is an introduction by the writer asking the question who invented mirrors, and why did they feel the need? Why do we need to look pretty, why can't we be happy with ourselves just the way we are? Why are we always looking to the future? Why don't we just live in the here and now and enjoy what we have?

He creates a series of deep and thought provoking questions, and if we are honest, they will resonant with everyone of us. Whilst we are wanting to look pretty enough to be taken seriously, or at least not laughed at, the fundamental question is, what does it actually mean to be pretty?

Greg (Tom Burke) is confronted by his girlfriend Steph (Sian Brooke) that she has heard he has told his friend he doesn't think she is beautiful, but that he wouldn't change her for the world. Greg cannot understand why Steph is so devastated and angry, he doesn't think he has done anything wrong because he loves her despite her looks. He spends the majority of the play trying to explain himself to others, which he fails to do without causing anger!

Kent (Kieran Bew) Greg's best friend is forever boasting about how beautiful his wife Carly (Billie Piper) is, however, despite him thinking that she is beautiful, he can't help but chase after a new attractive colleague. Kent is the complete opposite of Greg, he is foul mouthed and obsessed with appearances. He even chastises Greg for eating a cereal bar after his dinner because it will make Greg fat!

Steph is adamant she wants to end the relationship because she wants to be with someone whip thinks she is beautiful. In order to hurt Greg like she has been hurt, she reels off a list of all of Greg's inadequacies, both physically and sexually. Later on in the play Step has moved on and accidentally bumps into Greg who points out that at some point he new date will probably hurt her unintentionally too.

Carly becomes pregnant but is concerned that Kent is cheating on her. She asks Greg who say's he hasn't seen much of Kent recently but doubts that he would be unfaithful. Greg then meets with Kent for a softball game, however, Kent is his bullish obnoxious self and Greg finally stands up to him. When Greg next meets Carly, he tells her that perhaps she should take a night off and go and spend it with her husband.

Whilst the play is very American in language, the themes are very much a global affair. We are forced to consider what beauty is. Can it be just as much a curse as a blessing? The play is in fact the final instalment of a trilogy about the obsession that society has with the way a person looks.

I really loved this play. It showed how a casual remark can be taken out of context, but then also how much importance people stake on their appearance. They don't just worry about their looks, but people's perceptions of them, and they will do anything, anything to fit in, whatever the consequences. By the end of the play there is an optimism for each of the characters and their futures.

No comments:

Post a Comment