Imagine overhearing the love of your life comparing you to another hotter chick. Now imagine him telling his friend that although he finds you cute and sweet, the hot chick has a prettier face than yours. Would you flip out, brush it off and move on or dwell and spiral into self-destruction?
When I heard that the critically acclaimed play Reasons To Be Pretty written by Neil Labute was being adapted to the Lebanese context I knew it could prevail over any cultural or translation differences and play out as though it had always been written with Beirut in mind. Better yet, when I found out award-winning director and actress Nadine Labaki was in it (whom I learned last night had never done theatre prior to this) I was determined to get myself on that guest list.
And I did. Reasons To Pretty, directed by Jacques Maroun opened (literally) with many bangs last night at Hamra’s Al-Madina Theatre. And although it has its fair share of drama, the story is in fact a comedy, one that uses humor to reexamine our very sad, limited and harsh perception of what we as a whole consider to be beauty, how we are so willing to judge one another simply by the way we look and how that alone can pull even the tightest of couples apart.
My friends have been trying to drag me to plays for years now but I’ve always resisted. I’ve just been turned off by the idea of Lebanese overacting. But last night was nothing like that. It felt as though we were watching play in New York from the meticulous and elaborate sets, to the fast changing scenes and though the cast was an all-star one, they all left their egos behind. It was so perfectly adapted to Lebanese pop culture with all the spot-on clichés that it felt like a scene from Hitchcock’s Rear Window as we all peered into the intimate lives of two couples. And so hilarious that even as members of the audience we had to stop ourselves from cracking up as not to create too much distraction for the actors.
I’m not going to single out any actors, they were all incredible but I can’t help but form a new admiration for Talal El Jurdi, the man did an outstanding job embodying his character, to the point where I wanted to give him a big hug after the play and tell him it’s all going to be alright. And I almost did at the glamorous after-party held at Le Grey’s Bar Threesixty where everyone celebrated a job so wonderfully done.