Reasons To Be Pretty

Reasons To Be Pretty
By Neil Labute. Director Hannah Kassulke. Brisbane Arts Theatre Playing August 18 – September 24.

This play, with a cast of only four, delves into human relationships on various levels of intensity. Added to this are the questions of what constitutes beauty and what is true love. Connections between the play’s two couples disintegrate over the answers to these questions, along with a lack of trust and knowing when to keep the mouth shut. Perhaps it is, in many ways, a mirror of how we all handle the often difficult decisions to be made between the ideals of relationships and the reality of the everyday world.

On her debut as a director, Hannah Kassulke has shown the skill and control needed for this production. The set was minimal, which allowed for the many scene changes necessary. Emma Reynolds, in the key role of Steph, was outstanding as she came to grips with Tanaka Utete as Greg, her lover and opponent. The main fault with the play to me was the excessive use of profanities in the opening scene, which lowered the range of emotions that were really needed. Later in Act 2, the softer emotional interplay between these characters was far more effective. Emma Reynolds stood out in that scene in particular.  Camille Chorley was solid in the other female role while  Matthew  Orberg completed the cast as Kent. Neither of the male performers displayed clearly and sensitively the range of emotions that some crucial scenes demanded.

It is good to see plays that challenge the audience in the context of the modern world but some fine tuning would increase the over-all standard. I look forward to seeing the next production by director Hannah Kassulke. This production succeeded in causing the audience to wonder if they were like that at some time in their lives. In that sense, the play worked.

William Davies

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