Stray Cat Theatre takes audiences on a journey from depression to hope in ''reasons to be pretty,''

Sunday, September 26, 2010
AZ Republic

In "reasons to be pretty," the psychological punishments that two young, working-class couples inflict upon one another aren't as cruel and unusual as in earlier LaBute, but instead of picking sides, the viewer starts out feeling like an unwilling voyeur trapped with them in their claustrophobic lives.

In Stray Cat Theatre's Arizona-premiere production, this perception is underlined visually with an elegantly symmetrical and pointedly oppressive set by David J. Castellano.

...director April Miller's young cast delivers on the playwright's stylized dialogue, a sometimes uncomfortable mix of blue-collar bravado and aspirational erudition.

Far more important, though, is the emotional journey the actors take in the second act, which opens up to a possibility of change, of personal progress, that is often missing in LaBute's stark dissections of human behavior.

Virgin and Haas find a volatile chemistry between his fear of confrontation and her feelings of inadequacy. Meanwhile, Alex Bradley puffs up a menacing charm as alpha dog Kent, and Michelle Chin, playing his security-guard wife, Carly, is equal parts fragility and bitchiness.


reasons to be pretty