recommended Profiles Theatre, one of the stronger “storefronts” in Chicago has a wonderful relationship with playwright Neil LaBute and considers itself fortunate to be THE Theater to present the Chicago Premiere of Mr. LaBute’s first play to be produced on Broadway ( and be nominated for three Tony Awards, including best play of 2009). “Pretty” is a small intimate story, ideal for the intimate theater located on the north side, that deals with a man, Greg ( well played by Darrell W. Cox, who is one of the regular ensemble members gracing the Profiles stage) who makes a misstatement that changes his whole life. Greg has been living with Steph ( very smartly played by Darci Nalepa) and as tells his story, we go back into time, a day after he made his error. It is the morning after he said that he agreed with his work buddy, Kent ( deftly handled by Chistian Stolte, who plays this character almost as if he were Jim Belushi in almost every role he has ever played, but better) that the new girl where they work is beautiful, not like Steph who is just plain. Kent kind of agrees and his wife Carly ( Ensemble member Somer Benson) who works where they do and is a friend of Steph, calls Steph to relay the events at her home. All hell breaks loose and Greg and Steph, in what is a flash-back, truly go at it until Steph walks out.
The rest of the play is about all the events that took place until this very day as Greg relays to us all the adventures and misadventures of these characters. As Greg and Steph breakup, The couple relationship is destroyed and Carly no longer has anything to do with Greg. Meanwhile, Kent takes on a new challenge in the new girl and Greg, who still loves Steph, just trudges through his life hoping that Steph will come back. During the months of separation, their paths do cross, but not for the better. While Greg is trying to make his life more tolerable, Kent has changed his work schedule so that while Carly ( now pregnant) will work while he is free to play around. The friction between Greg and Kent reaches a new height when Greg covers for Kent despite his regret for doing so and then decide he cannot continue to do so. Their relationship is over and after he sends Carly home one night, knowing that Kent is with another, their relationship ends as well. Steph meets Mr. Right and even invites Greg to the wedding after they have their final meeting- when Steph passes him walking down the aisle, he realizes that Pretty is what she is and since that day has changed his way of life. Pretty is what is inside more than what one sees and as we see ourselves, each day, we change a bit. Greg learns that one word can change an entire life, not just for one, but for many.
This is an intense look at relationships and one of the fastest 90 minutes of theater I have seen of late. Each character, flawed as they may be, is real and may in fact appear to be someone that you know, or perhaps, if you truly look in the mirror, you! Directed by Steppenwolf’s Rick Snyder on a sparse set ( Stephen H. Carmody) with lighting by Jess Harpenau and basic costumes by Myron Elliott, this is a character study where the words of LaBute and the acting of this fine cast are what is important. No glitz or glamour- just basic art with heart and soul from all sides.
“Reasons To Be Pretty” will continuse at Profiles Theatre located at 4147 N. Braodway will continue through March 13th with performances as follows:
Wednesday,Thursday and Friday evenings at 8 P.M.- Saturdays at 5 and 8 P.M.-Sundays at 7 P.M.
Tickets range from $35 to $40 with a $5 discount for seniors and students. They can be ordered by calling 773-549-1815 or online at www.profilestheatre.org
This is an intimate venue so order quickly.
Parking on the street is rough, but they do offer discount parking at 4100 N. Clarendon ( at BellePlaine) for $10 or $100 ( just a block East of the theater). The CTA Broadway 36 stops at the door, so that might be the easiest way to get there.