Neil LaBute’s “reasons to be pretty” continues his well-trod argument over surface versus content as seen in plays like “The Shape of Things” and “Fat Pig.” Points to LaBute for keeping the oft-examined debate from sinking to the formulaic. The heart of the piece is in the right place.
Greg (Darrell Cox) makes a derogatory comment about girlfriend Steph’s (Darci Nalepa) attractiveness. Kent’s (Christian Stolte) wife Carly (Somer Benson) passes on the comment and all hell breaks loose as both couples plunge into nasty sexual politics, exploring loyalty and betrayal.
Cox scores as Greg, a hapless guy who struggles for redemption; you want to slap him and hug him afterward. Nalepa’s fury is both painful and darkly funny; Stolte and Benson lay believable ground as a couple poised for a bad fall. Rick Snyder’s solid direction keeps the ensemble on a well-paced track. It’s a bittersweet look at mundane cruelty. (Lisa Buscani)
At Profiles Theatre, 4147 North Broadway, (773)549-1815. Through April 10.