Plenty of “Reasons” to get to Renaissance Theaterworks
Beautiful, pretty. Unattractive, ugly. What do these words really convey about a person, especially a woman? In Reasons To Be Pretty, the answer releases a torrent of foul language during an argument between a young couple where the woman eventually walks away in silence.
This scene electrifies the very first moments of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of Neil LaBute’s Reasons third play in a trilogy on surface appearances. The title’s premise becomes immediately apparent when the boyfriend admits admiring a beautiful woman to his friend, then mentions that his longtime girlfriend “only had a regular face,” a small step removed from implying she was unattractive.
This electric dialogue sets the stage for Renaissance Theaterworks opening production in their 18th season when the company presents a third LaBute play based on society’s preoccupation with physical beauty. In this new script first performed in 2008, the theme revolves around ‘pretty,’ which Webster’s dictionary defines as “the conventional attributes of beauty.”
Renaissance assembles a quartet of actors who validate Reasons with conviction, with all except Coon appearing in their company debut. Banovez and Coon provide the explosive connection between Greg and Stephanie with a chemistry that adds affection, believability and dimension to the volatile relationship and the play’s resolution. Wojtas inhabits Kent with immature machismo that adversely affects his marriage with Carly and friendship with Greg. As the final scenes unravel between first Greg and Kent, then Greg and Stephanie, the characters must finally grow up and become wiser in an unkind world.
While the riveting performance evolves over two acts and two hours under co-founder Susan Fete’s energizing direction, the play uncovers a deeper, more compelling meaning than the superficiality of physical appearance. Words do hurt and admitting truths or accepting lies determines an individual’s true character, revealed by what a person says and the resulting actions. This truth transcends the obsession with worrying about one’s reflection in the mirror and underscores the differences between being considered pretty and essentially beautiful.
Renaissance Theaterworks produces a thoroughly enthralling evening that encourages the audience to respond with indignation, offense and often laughter. Perhaps in the end, Reasons To Be Pretty suggest that lasting beauty comes from within and grows more fascinating over time – similar to Renaissance Theaterworks’ dramatic performances, which challenge audiences to experience so much more than merely pretty entertainment.
Renaissance Theaterworks presents Reasons To Be Pretty through October 24. For information or tickets, visit http://r-t-w.com or call The Broadway Theatre Center at 414-291-7800.