VIDEO: Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre presents hard-hitting, gritty comedy about beauty

Reasons to Be Pretty, by playwright Neil LaBute, premieres March 24 at Nanaimo’s Harbour City Theatre.

Sarah Cashin

Beauty is subjective.

Like the saying goes it is in the ‘eye of the beholder.’

Western Edge Theatre’s latest production Reasons to be Pretty examines the issue and how words used to describe individuals can lead to emotional fallout and rifts between lovers and friends. Reasons to be Pretty, by playwright Neil LaBute, is a hard-hitting, gritty comedy that follows the lives of four people in their 20s.

Tamara McCarthy, the director, said LaBute’s writing is very natural and gritty.

“I’ve been comparing him to a modern-day Oscar Wilde because I think he is extremely witty. He uses wit and the rhythm of the English language impeccably well in this play… it’s really almost musical in that way,” said McCarthy. “He goes to really dark places with his characters. He is not afraid at all to just put it all out there … it’s really powerful because it hits you right in the gut.”

McCarthy said audience members will be cringing and laughing at the same time and then all of a sudden crying because of the power of the story.

Trouble starts for the character Greg, played by Jon Greenway, when he describes his girlfriend Steph’s face as regular, not beautiful or pretty.

“Greg is somebody who starts off with his foot in his mouth. He is very unsure of what he’s done wrong in terms of the idea of subjective beauty,” said Greenway. “What is discussed a lot is the idea of beauty and the idea of being pretty and he is definitely somebody who doesn’t really get it and it’s definitely through his eyes, a lot of the play.”

Greenway said the play is a coming-of-age story for his character.

Sarah Cashin, who stars as Steph, said after Greg’s comment, Steph begins a journey in search of happiness. The comment makes her take a look at her life and leads her to make changes in pursuit of happiness. At the end of the play, Steph is faced with questions about whether the changes she made were worth it. Cashin said the play will make people think.

“It’s important for audiences to see work like this and to have a mirror held up to themselves in a way and to really take a look at what they are experiencing in their own lives,” said Cashin, adding that hopefully people will take something away from the play and apply it to reality.

Reasons to be Pretty shows March 24-25, 31 and April 1 at 7:30 p.m. and April 2 at 2 p.m. at Harbour City Theatre, located at 25 Victoria Rd. Audience members are advised that the play includes adult language and content.

Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for seniors and $12 for students available by visiting or by phoning 250-816-6459.

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