Directed by Darrell W. Cox
At Profiles Theatre, Chicago
Pure LaBute comic drama contains a sequel to his intense Reasons To Be Pretty
Neil LaBute’s strong works are in good hands with the folks at Profiles Theatre who have mounted many of his works over the years. After the hit Reasons To Be Pretty in 2011, Profiles Theatre now has produced it’s sequel, Reasons to Be Happy, but with a new cast.
Happy opens with an intense scene similar to Pretty: “The opening scene (in Reasons To Be Pretty and now in Reasons To Be Happy) is pure LaBute: screaming, foul language, rage and slurring of insults that will make your hair curl mostly from Steph as Greg tries to explain, apologize and soften Steph’s rage. Steph and Greg are over as a couple….” Only, now Greg (Eric Burgher) is dating Carly (Sarah Loveland), Steph’s (Domencia Camerson-Scorsese) best friend. That fact outrages Steph who vents her rage in this sequel’s opening scene. LaBute’s powerful raging characters continue here.
Happy revolves around Greg, a former factory co-worker with Steph, Kent (Dennis Bisto), Carly ex-husband and Greg’s old pay. They all worked together until Greg left to get a teaching degree as he strives for a life as an intellectual outside the narrow world of working class small town America. Greg isn’t sure what he wants or who he really wants to be with and he wants a full time teaching job in a larger city. When he is with Carly, she is his love yet he still has feeling about Steph, especially after being confronted by her after not seeing her for a long time. It sure seems that Greag is a weakling ambivalent about who and what he wants out of life. His old pay Kent, a wound-too-tight fellow with temper issues, isn’t too pleased that Greg is an item with his ex Carly.
In this 90 minute one act, Greg’s changing feeling, his cowardly meeting with his two love interests and his fear of Kent plays out in several intense and often comic confrontations. Eric Burgher is terrific as the vacillating Greg while Domencia Cameron-Scorsese is effective as the ever- potentially exploding Steph. Who will Greg end up with and where will he go is neatly and emotionally played out through LaBute’s stinging dislodge and his rich intense characters. Reasons To Be Happy is a fine sequel to his engaging Reasons To Be Pretty. Profiles Theatre sure knows how to makes LaBute’s plays come alive on stage. The intensity, the emotional rage, and the strength of performers give a truthful honesty to LaBute’s work. This play is worth a look.
Talk theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: August 29, 2014
For more info checkout the Reasons To be Happy page at theatreinchicago.com
At Profiles Theatre, 4139 N .Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 773-549-1815, tickets $35 -$40, Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through October 12, 2014