Tarragon continues its strong season with award-winning play, The Ugly One, directed by Ashlie Corcoran. Co-produced with Theatre Smash, and written by Marius von Mayenburg, this piece comes with a warning: Don’t be a narcissist! The play opens with a group of men discussing their business plans to promote a new product, however the creator of the product, Lette (David Jansen), learns that there is one problem with the pitch: he is too ugly to sell anything. Realizing that he is even too ugly for his wife, (Naomi Wright) Lette undergoes radical plastic surgery to get a new face, only to encounter a new problem. The surgery makes him too beautiful. With everyone falling in love with his new face, he becomes the living embodiment of narcissism to the point where the only person he can truly love is himself.
The ensemble brings these zany and eccentric characters to life beautifully, with all of the actors (with the exception of Jansen) doubling up in their roles. Jesse Aaron Dwyre, Hardee T. Lineham, and Naomi Wright all take on two distinct characters and give their characters unique voices without a hitch. The performances really resonate with the audience, making spectators laugh at some moments, while also making them completely appalled at others.
Set and costume designer, Camellia Koo, should be given props for the overall aesthetic of the piece. With a minimalist set consisting of a table, a lamp and some chairs extending into the audience, combined with the actors being suited up in grey, Koo creates a very monochromatic appearance. This droll atmosphere appropriately contrasts with the zany antics of the characters. Lighting Designer, Jason Hand, successfully contrasts this atmosphere as well, by switching between the off-blue buzz of fluorescent lights to the warm orange glow of a hotel room that is perfect for seduction.
This is a play that should definitely be put on your to-see list. The characters are engaging, the set is intriguing and the message is honest. If you want a good way to spend an hour, you can’t go wrong with heading down to Tarragon’s Extra Space and catching this realistic-absurdist hybrid.
The Ugly One plays at Tarragon Theatre until February 16th. Tickets are available by phone at 416-531-1827 or online at http://tarragontheatre.com.
photo credit: Bronwen Sharp
Featured in the photo: Jesse Aaron Dwyre, Naomi Wright