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St. Louis Stage Capsules 

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

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reasons to be pretty Greg (Tom Lehman) makes the mistake of unfavorably comparing the face of Steph (Rachel Hanks), his live-in girlfriend, to that of a new female employee. Word gets back to Steph, precipitating an extended fight between the two that upends both lives. This classic example of the Neil LaBute polyphony of rage sets the tone for the whole show; make no mistake, reasons to be pretty is a bilious, combative and uncomfortable two hours. As portrayed by Hanks, Steph is vengeful, foul-mouthed, violent and selfish — in other words, she's Labute's platonic ideal of a woman. Why Lehman's Greg is so devoted to maintaining the relationship is the play's big mystery; perhaps not even Greg himself knows. Lehman does an exemplary job of conveying confusion and frustration as the pair's lives diverge and he has to reassess everything else in his world, from friendships to job to core beliefs about love, honesty and loyalty. In their final scene together, Greg's dialogue is all acquiescence to Steph's wishes, but his pained eyes and twisted mouth transmit the truth. When one half of the couple wants out, the other half can either fight or give in. Greg's choice represents a hard lesson learned for both character and audience. Presented by NonProphet Theater Company under the direction of Robert A. Mitchell through October 9 at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Boulevard. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 636-236-4831 or visit — Paul Friswold

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