10 Reasons to Like Reasons to Be Pretty

The final production of Red Monkey Theater Group's excellent 2012/2013 season is reasons to be pretty (sic, the lowercase spelling of the title is intentional). I saw it Thursday night and it proved to be a powerful, emotional, and very entertaining theatrical experience. Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should see one of its remaining performances before it closes this weekend.

Neil LaBute - It all begins with the playwright. As with his other plays, The Shape of Things and Fat Pig, LaBute explores our society's obsession with physical appearance in a brilliantly constructed story and through characters that the audience will love, hate, and often recognize as parts of themselves and people they know.

Jose Laureiro as Greg - How can anyone not fall in love with this sympathetic character, especially the way he's brought to life by Laureiro, whose raw emotional delivery tugs at your heart and kicks you in the gut?

Zoey Rutherford as Steph - From the first explosive words out of her character's mouth to the final scene in which more is said by the moments of silence than by the dialogue, this is an incredible character arc.

Ean Miles Kessler as Kent - There are antagonists and then there are outright villains.  Kent falls on the latter part of the "bad guy" spectrum, but as much as his actions are selfish, misogynistic, bullying, and hateful, Kessler manages to portray him as more than just a caricature, making it impossible for us to look away no matter how much his words and actions might seem deplorable.

Abby Rockwell Savage as Carly - Each character has a terrific monologue in the spotlight, and they are all insightful, but Carly's touched me the most. She becomes a real tragic figure, growing in our eyes, as she does in the eyes of Greg, who originally blames her for setting the whole conflict of the play in motion.

The Director Holland Renton - This is another example of the fine work that Renton has done, making the strong source material her own. Just as she did with her previous projects, The Exonerated and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, she brings out the best in her actors and stages the play so well that she transports us to the exact highs and lows that the playwright intended.

The Fight Choreographer Tal Aviezer - It's tough to choreograph fight scenes in a thrust stage environment, because the audience is on three sides of the performance space, making it difficult sometimes to maintain the illusion of believable kicks, slaps, and punches. That's all the more reason to applaud Aviezer and the actors for making each blow seem real.

The Set Designer Jason Bolen - Previous set designs by Bolen have been more elaborate (I'm thinking of Agnes of God, Die Mommy Die, Doubt, and others), but the smaller canvas on which he works here results in an intimate diorama that serves the various scenes of the story extremely well. The transitions from apartment to factory lounge to cafe to ballpark to restaurant exterior all happen seamlessly, and the little attentions to detail are exquisite.

Cahill Theater - This wonderful theater space on the campus of the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York, has been the perfect fit for Red Monkey Theater Group's brand of productions. I am happy to learn that their residency has been extended for another five years.

Red Monkey Theater Group - This season has been a stellar one for the troupe that was founded in 1999. It began with an excellent adaptation of Uncle Vanya, featured a delightful version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and had two dance productions, one in December and one in March. I eagerly look forward to whatever they have in store for us next.

There are plenty of other reasons, of course, which you will discover once you see this amazing play.  Visit http://www.redmonkeytheater.org for more information.