If you were proactive enough to snag a ticket for WCU’s School of Stage and Screen “Reasons to Be Pretty” on opening night, then chances are you enjoyed it.
Romantic songs were played before the opening, and the audience buzzed with excitement. The lights dimmed. Two actors exploded from the back of the theatre and made their way down to the floor before the stage, bickering at each other. ‘Pretty’ had started off rather ugly.
Two couples, one married, go through the throes of everything that makes up a relationship in the third part of a series, presented by the School of Stage and Screen, that focuses on physical appearance and romantic relationships. Steph, played by Sarah Shelter, is furious with her steady boyfriend Greg, played by Tim Stoeckel, because he made a comment about her unflattering face. Their married friends are equally in trouble with the husband cheating on his pregnant wife. One couple’s story ends with a smile; the other ends in termination and ruin.
The play was hilarious in many areas and so honest. Many audience members identified with what the characters were going through, including one member from the second row verbally agreeing with Shelter’s lines. The chemistry between the actors was undeniable. Each gave a whole-hearted performance. Spit, orange peel, and sweat hit the stage. It was romantic real life playing out against a black curtain.
Caitlyn Hoffman, a WCU Sophomore, enjoyed the play, calling it both funny and serious at the same time.
“It was really deep,” said Hoffman. “It explored the idea of what people really think of your appearance. It seemed realistic to me, which was funny, but they were also very blunt about it.”
Hoffman, who attended on opening night, was tightly seated next to an elderly couple that seemed to enjoy the play as much as she did.
“I could relate to Steph the most,” said Hoffman. “She was always questioning what guys thought of her, and I do that too.”
Opening night offered fun activities for the early arrivers such as headless cardboard cut outs of characters that you could stand behind and take photos, and graffiti posters that people could write comments about what people have said about their appearances.
The costumes and set were superb. Some scenes did not have a set at all, but the actors worked effortlessly with the blank stage using it to create a room that needed no physical objects to complete it. The main set was Greg’s workplace at a box-packing factory with water cooler, table and chairs, plump red chair, and table covered in typical packages of lunch munchies. The backdrop was a stunning wall of boxes with brand names facing the audience. It towered high above the actors like the wall of a cage, enclosing the characters in an unpleasant environment that signifies the tedious minimum wage night job.
Unfortunately, there was a tasteless amount of language constantly throughout the play. Every character had the foul mouth of a sailor. It was downright shocking even for the hostile environment that the characters often found themselves in with arguing amongst each other. In some scenes, the excessive language made some sense, but was it necessary in all of them? It was over the top and many of the words were thrown out just to get a small chuckle from the back row.