James Wallis and Julia Nish-Lapidus, artists from award-winning company Shakespeare BASH’d, are presenting two of Neil LaBute’s plays at the Unit 102 Theatre. Fat Pig is being presented as a staged reading, and reasons to be pretty has been given a fully staged production, directed by James Wallis.
reasons to be pretty opens with a fight between couple Steph (Julia Nish-Lapidus) and Greg (Steve Boleantu) —Steph having heard from her friend Carly (Elisabeth Lagerlöf) that Greg told Carly’s boyfriend Kent (James Wallis) that Carly is pretty, but Steph is just regular looking.
The performances in reasons to be pretty make the production a success. The night starts off with a bang with Nish-Lapidus and Boleantu’s first scene as Steph and Greg. Their performances continue to be especially strong, and the scenes between the two of them are the highlights of the night.
The piece is set against a back wall covered in a collage of photos from magazines that depict people who are commonly considered to be beautiful. This effectively helps to set up the piece’s theme of our societal obsession with physical appearance.
The piece lags, unfortunately, due to slow transitions. At the end of every scene there is a blackout, and actors walk on stage, out of character, to move the various chairs and tables around to set up for the next scene. These transitions occur along with upbeat music containing similar themes to the show, which helped to keep us in the world of the play, but I still would have loved to see a more inventive approach taken to the transitions. The scenes themselves are fast-paced and very engaging, but the energy drop in between them is unfortunate.
That being said, the performances in this piece certainly make it an interpretation of LaBute’s work that is worth seeing.
reasons to be pretty is playing at Unit 102 until April 13. Tickets $17. For more information, visit www.labute-cycle.com.
photo credit: Kyle Purcell