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CJ Lazaretti, West End blogger
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Detroit-born playwright Neil LaBute and London just can’t stay apart from each other for long.
After premiering In a Forest, Dark and Deep at the Vaudeville Theatre last March, his notorious schemers are once more hitting London in Reasons to Be Pretty, at the Almeida.
The play closed a trilogy of plays exploring modern obsession with physical beauty in 2008, following The Shape of Things and Fat Pig.
Reasons to be pretty was also the first LaBute play to transfer to Broadway, after a month-long run at the Lucille Lortel Theater in Greenwich Village.
Despite a cast consisting of screen stars Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) and Matthew Fox (Lost), In a Forest, Dark and Deep struggled with mixed reviews during its 12-week run.
Still, it’s no surprise to find the playwright’s work in demand. His productions not only feature the frequent casting of film talent in stage roles (Reasons to Be Pretty features Billie Piper, from Doctor Who and Secret Diary of a Call Girl), but LaBute himself enjoys a film directing career busy enough to prevent him from still directing stage productions of his plays.
The Almeida is a common destination for LaBute plays. Over the past decade, the Islington theatre presented The Shape of Things, The Distance From Here, acclaimed 9/11-themed drama The Mercy Seat and In a Dark Dark House, the last two by Almeida artistic director Michael Attenborough.
After directing recent critical hit The Knot of the Heart, Attenborough returns to LaBute with Reasons to Be Pretty.
Praised for his casual dialogue and attention to modern social and sexual conflict, Neil Labute is one of the few contemporary playwrights to remain consistently challenging and accessible at the same time.
Though never full-on confrontational in tone or form (with the possible exception of the controversial Bash: Latter-Day Plays cycle, also staged at the Almeida), his plays always address sensitive issues like adultery, gender roles and tension in the workplace.
Always relevant and topical, new LaBute productions are not to be missed by casual audiences and drama enthusiasts alike.
A teenage girl thought she was escaping an argument when she got into a car with a Chadwell Heath man – but he took her to a house and raped her, a court heard today.
Hundreds are expected to attend an annual exhibition promoting some of east London’s top businesses.
Rush Green Library is earmarked for closure following a period of public consultation on the library service.
In November 1956 Mr Munn, chief public relations officer of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, walked into the office of the Barking Advertiser, where I was a reporter.