Reasons To Be Pretty

by Michael Martin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday November 4, 2009

Ricky Waugh and Todd Allen Durkin in Reasons To Be Pretty
Ricky Waugh and Todd Allen Durkin in Reasons To Be Pretty  

GableStage at the Biltmore in Coral Gables has opened its 2009-2010 season with Neil LaBute's Reasons To Be Pretty, which showcases a powerful mix of theatrical talent.

LaBute's story focuses on the relationships of two couples whose interpersonal friendships typically follow same-sex patterns.

Greg (Ricky Waugh) and Kent (Todd Allen Durkin) share a common blue collar work environment, warehousing frozen food inventories. The men also spend time together outside of work playing ball for the workplace sports team.

Steph (Erin Joy Schmidt) and Carly (Amy Elane Anderson) connect mostly on a female level, though Carly shares the most common footing between all parties since she also works as a security guard at the warehouse.

A pitting of sides ensues when Carly overhears a conversation between the men in which Greg confesses that he thinks his girlfriend Steph possesses a more "regular" face than that of a new hire at work that Kent blatantly fawns over.

Oddly, Carly isn't so much concerned with the comments from her own husband as the perceived importance of fleeing to Steph to confide in what she's just learned.

Relationships begin to crumble from all sides, and LaBute masterfully utilizes dialogue to highlight personal insecurities that exasperate the situations.

The author proposes the inconceivability that a seemingly casual comment about a pretty face in today's society could lead to such disastrous results. Sadly, the possibility appears to exist, and with high probability.

LaBute accentuates this truth. His characters are real people speaking believable, truthful dialogue. The author possesses a special gift for scripting authentic speech, and for constructing multi-dimensional characters that are at once credible.

LaBute's genius would be lost, however, were it not for the incredible and powerfully packed performances by both Waugh and Durkin. The energy and brilliance of oration exponentially multiplies when either actor takes stage, and its no holds barred when the script calls for just the two of them to share the footlights.

Schmidt and Anderson hold their own and provide important, creative support. Both actresses capably provide characterizations that further imbue the story with realism.

Director Joseph Adler excels in enticing a verisimilitude of performance from the remarkable cast. An inventive use of space by set designer Lyle Baskin, creative lighting by Jeff Quinn, and genuine costumes by Ellis Tillman all aid in evoking an honesty of setting.

As author, playwright, and screen writer, LaBute boasts an impressive resume. Yet it was this work that finally received a Tony Award Nomination as an acknowledgement of excellence. It is easy to see why, and Adler's amazing cast personifies that very excellence.

Reasons To Be Pretty continues through November 22 at GableStage at the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Avenue in Coral Gables. For more information, visit the website.

Michael Martin has been an active member of Actors' Equity for over 20 years. As a professional actor, he has toured many parts of the US and the world. Originally from St. Louis, he now resides in Miami.