reasons to be pretty
A quartet of fine actors, led by Thomas Sadoski and Marin Ireland, partially redeem Neil LaBute's too-familiar battle-of-the-sexes play.
Fortunately, its flaws are partially redeemed by its four-person cast: Thomas Sadoski, who has deepened his already probing performance as factory worker Greg, the intensely gifted Marin Ireland, who deserves to be kissed by the producers on the hem of her late-in-play asymmetrical skirt for immersing herself in the role of Greg's aggrieved girlfriend Steph, and Piper Perabo (the show's other holdover) and Steven Pasquale as married co-workers Carly and Kent, who also warrant kudos for their committed performances under Terry Kinney's acidly biting direction.
The reason Steph is loudly warring with boyfriend Greg at the play's outset is because she's had word from Carly that Greg described her as ugly to Kent. As the shouting crescendos on David Gallo's blue-collar-environs set, Greg insists he was expressing his love for Steph, even if she has a "regular" face. Yet, despite his sometimes obscenity-riddled protestations, Steph wants none of it and abruptly quits the four-year relationship.
As time passes, Greg -- who reads Poe and Hawthorne during his breaks from packing frozen food -- has to learn not only to live with Steph's decision, but to tolerate the increasingly boorish behavior of the muscular Kent, another of LaBute's arrested-development boys in a man's buff body. Among other things, Greg is obliged to keep mum to newly-pregnant Carly about Kent's affair with (unseen) co-worker Crystal. The boys come to bloody blows when Greg finally declares he'll no longer provide alibis for Kent, and the damage doesn't stop there.
Ultimately, Greg is forced to examine his own immature behavior and even rectify it -- an act which heretofore has been atypical of LaBute's testosterone-overloaded male characters. But the surprising turn of events may come too late to mollify patrons sated by the playwright's all-too- familiar verbal and physical attacks. (It's to his credit, however, that in the move to Broadway, he's excised the awkward monologues that stopped the earlier version in its careering tracks.)