Moments into the first act, a hipstery soundtrack sets the mood for reasons to be pretty. It promised a play packed with youthful energy, new talent and a modern script. Reasons never fully lives up to this premise, but still manages to entertain with ferocity during its 90-minute lifespan.
I discovered this production through twitter; as with many indie productions, there was little capacity for promotion beyond word-of-mouth. The press release from Fighting Chance Productions provided me with a few scant details on what was to come:
[R]easons to be pretty introduces us to Greg, who really, truly adores his girlfriend, Steph. Unfortunately, he also thinks she has a few physical imperfections, and when he casually mentions them, all hell breaks loose. A hopelessly romantic drama about the hopelessness of romance, reasons to be pretty is a gorgeous play.
I’m not sure if ‘gorgeous’ was necessarily the best descriptor. Reasons had many aspects that I particularly enjoy about the indie theatre genre, including a stripped-down set and easy transitions. Havana’s intimate venue provided a further opportunity for reasons to focus on the interactions between its four actors.
Reasons presents a rather discouraging depiction of women. You can elect to be crazy and vindictive ex-girlfriend Steph (Kristy Fielding) of clueless but overall nice guy Greg (Adam Beauchesne). Also, spoiler, the play’s last act pretty much informs the audience that she inevitably regrets her choice in life. Secondly, you can assume the role of long-suffering Carly (Emma Johnson), who starts off as an independent voice but is soon sidelined into jealous and indecisive behaviour by douchbag boyfriend Kent (James Paladino). Are women always gossip-mongering, bitchy, and illogical? Reasons seems to think so.
There’s also way too much posing. Example: reasons tries to mirror the complexities relationships in real life, but nowhere would two men stand around for so long, talking about how much they wanted to pummel each other to the ground. The tension of the scene was long fled by the time they (finally) exploded into action.
The Final Word
Much like their name, there’s promise and hope for Fighting Chance Productions. I liked the raw energy of the cast. Despite problems in script and pacing, individual performances were strong and believable. There were periods where I felt like a fly on the wall, witnessing an intense, private argument between lovers. These confrontations wrung you dry with their length and ferocity, proving that there are few winners when love is involved.
Fighting Chance Productions’ reasons to be pretty plays at Havana’s until February 1, 2014. Advanced tickets here.