reasons to be pretty, the third installment in Neil LaBute's trilogy concerning the contemporary fixation on appearances, delves into how what you say, what you mean and how it's perceived by others don't always fall in line. Conversations, however insignificant or unintentional, come back to haunt Greg (Daniel Abeles) when his comment about his girlfriend's ordinary looks is overheard and repeated back to her. This event spirals into a portrait of four young, working class friends who struggle with the mediocrity of life and the societal obsession with image.
Directed by Maria Mileaf, reasons to be pretty is entertaining and authentic. From the excellent detail in the props to the sterile and simplistic set to the cold lighting and befitting costumes, the technical elements merge to support the story and the characters within it. Daniel Abeles shines in the role of Greg, casually presenting vulnerability, intelligence and restraint. As Genevieve Perrier (Steph) screams insult after curse-word studded insult, Paul Felder (Kent) oozes machismo and vanity and Elizabeth Stanley (Carly) stays strong through everyday trials, they come together as an ensemble cast that truly thrives within this fine-tuned production.
And in the end, in a play that confronts different notions of beauty we're left to determine the answers ourselves – who is right and why, how much does appearance matter versus how much it should and what really are the consequences for this preoccupation with image. Perhaps there's hope as we evaluate our own reasons to be pretty.
Performances of reasons to be pretty by the Philadelphia Theatre Company run through June 24. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.philadelphiatheatrecompany.org/.