Another LaButian bromance: Thom Miller and Ryan Artzberger./Photo: Carol Pratt.
Something surprising has happened to Neil LaBute in the last five years: He seems to have met some people. Not necessarily anyone specific. Just people, whose appetites and impulses are selfish, sure, but not malevolent to the point of abstraction, like so many who populate his earlier oeuvre of men behaving badly. Regular, you might call them, to use the baby-shampoo-mild insult that brings regular-guy Greg so much misery in Reasons to Be Pretty, the initially shaky, ultimately rewarding dramedy that’s landed for what could be another long engagement at the LaBute-loving Studio Theatre.
Billed as the closing chapter of a trilogy that includes the substantial The Shape of Things and the more lightweight Fat Pig, both of which got comfy at Studio in ‘02 and ‘06, respectively, Reasons purports to continue its precursors’ investigations of physical beauty, once again proding and twisting the loyalties among two women and two men. And for a restless first pair of scenes — another protracted, profane screaming match, another depressing conversation between our nominal hero and an at-work frenemy who seems too venal and stupid to function in any nonfictional environment — it feels like a rehash of ideas LaBute has mined more profitably in the past. But what gradually reveals itself to be the play’s true subject is the problem of fidelity. Continue reading
Brian Sutow and Lisa Hoodsoll in Some Girl(s)
The moment in Some Girl(s) wherein the drama first gives away something of its intentions comes early: At the end of a hotel-room interview with the high school beau who dumped her more than decade earlier, a woman slaps a man with the feeble, constrained strike of someone who isn’t accustomed to raising her voice, much less her fist. After she flees, the man touches his cheek in amazement, then allows a wolfish smile to unfurl across his face.
Yep, this is a Neil LaBute play.
The prolific vivisectionist of emotional cruelty is once again poking the bloody viscera beneath the skin of romantic relationships, even if this five-year-old effort isn’t as jagged with malevolence as prior LaButian beatdowns like the play Fat Pig or the film In the Company of Men or the play-and-film The Shape of Things. This compelling production comes from a new company, No Rules. Director Joshua Morgan and a cast led by Brian Sutow (the pair are the startup’s co-artistic directors) have limned enough humor and revelation from the material to whet our appetite for whatever they do next.
Like Nick Hornby’s popular novel High Fidelity, Some Girl(s) follows a youngish cad on a tour of the casualty ward of his exes. Though his ostensible purpose is to make amends before his marriage, the first of his appointments (mousy Clementine Thomas) has barely removed her coat and started panting at him before we get that he’s a scab-picker and probably worse. Later, he tells Bobbi (Emily Simonness), a more recent former lover, “This is all just part of the honesty thing I’m working on,” as though asking a waiter to leave the mayo off his sandwich. Continue reading