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The Ugly One

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

The face that fits is everything in Marius von Mayenburg's satire on the beauty myth, brought to madcap life in Debbie Hannan's production of Maja Zade's pithy English language translation. Martin McCormick is Lette, a hot-shot inventor planning on punting his latest gizmo to a highly- charged sales conference. His superior, Scheffler, has other ideas, alas, and co-opts Lette's pretty boy assistant Karlmann to do the job on the grounds that Lette is simply too ugly to get a result. Even Lette's wife Fanny is forced to agree, and drastic action is required.

When the bandages are peeled back after extreme plastic surgery, Lette's life changes overnight, and suddenly he is the golden boy. Until, that is, everyone wants a piece of him to the extent that the surgeon who changed Lette’s face finds a whole new market in copycat identikit physiognomy that makes across the board gorgeousness the new normal. Such is the way of supply and demand in a world where market forces become a beauty contest.

Set on Becky Minto's ice-cool interior bedecked in swathes of Katherine Williams' pastel-coloured lighting, the production’s quickfire 75-minutes seem to reinvent Dario Fo for a post-modern age. There is an archness to what comes out of this, with McCormick revelling in the absurdity of Lette’s plight, with Sally Reid, Helen Katamba and Michael Dylan’s comic skills keeping things similarly snappy.  

There is much fun to be had in the operating theatre, the proceedings of which are beamed out on a video screen in all their five-a-day glory, while the whole thing is pulsed by a soundscape from Andy McGregor that reimagines the Swingle Singers by way of The Art of Noise. As Lette and everyone else are forced to look at themselves anew, the face-off, when it comes, is a sight for sore eyes.

The Herald, July 8th 2019.



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