Michael Attenborough directs the UK premiere of Neil LaBute's Reasons To Be Pretty. Reasons To Be Pretty will run at The Almeida Theatre from 10 November 2011 - 14 January 2012 with press night on 17 November. Designs are by Soutra Gilmour with lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Fergus O'Hare. The cast comprises Kieran Bew, Siân Brooke, Tom Burke and Billie Piper.
Greg (Tom Burke), is overheard admitting that his girlfriend Steph (Siân Brooke) is no beauty, but that he wouldn't change her for the world. She is devastated; he can't quite see what he's done wrong. Meanwhile, Greg's best friend Kent (Kieran Bew) alternates between boasting about how gorgeous his wife Carly (Billie Piper) is, and chasing after a hot new colleague.
Tony Award-nominated Reasons to be Pretty, which received its world premiere at MCC's Lucille Lortel Theater, examines our perception of beauty and asks whether it is as much of a curse to be conventionally attractive as it is to be considered ugly.
Kieran Bew was last at the Almeida in Michael Attenborough's production of The Knot of the Heart. His other theatre credits include The House of Special Purpose for Chichester Festival Theatre and Richard II at the Old Vic. On television his credits include Whitechapel, Inspector George Gently, Waking The Dead, Silent Witness and Personal Affairs, Crusoe; The Street; Whistleblower; and Spooks. His film credits include 1234 and Green Street.
Siân Brooke can currently be seen in Stephen Poliakoff's My City, also at the Almeida. Previously her theatre credits include Mike Leigh's Ecstasy at the Duchess and Hampstead Theatres as well as Joseph K at the Gate Theatre, Wanderlust for the Royal Court, Dido, Queen of Carthage for The National Theatre, The Birthday Party at the Lyric Hammersmith and A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet and King Lear for the Royal Shakespeare Company. On television her credits include Garrow's Law, Silk, New Tricks, Doc Martin, The Commander and Cape Roth.
Tom Burke returns to the Almeida having previous played Malcolm in John Caird's production of Macbeth. He has most recently been seen at the Old Vic in Design For Living. Previously his theatre credits include Creditors and The Cut for the Donmar Warehouse, Glass Eels for Hampstead Theatre and Restoration for the Salisbury Playhouse. His film credits include An Enemy to Die For, Look, Stranger, Telstar and The Libertine. His television credits include Great Expectations, State of Play, Napoleon, In Love With Barbara and Dracula.
Billie Piper made her stage debut as Ann in Christopher Hampton's Treats at the Garrick Theatre. On television, as well as playing Rose in Doctor Who, she is best known for playing Belle in The Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Her other television credits include A Passionate Woman, Mansfield Park and Shadow in the North. Her film credits include Animals United, Spirit Trap and Things To Do Before You're 30.
Michael Attenborough is Artistic Director of The Almeida Theatre where his productions have been The Mercy Seat, Five Gold Rings, Brighton Rock, The Late Henry Moss, Enemies, There Came A Gypsy Riding, Big White Fog, Awake and Sing!, The Homecoming, In a Dark Dark House, When the Rain Stops Falling, Measure for Measure ,Through A Glass Darkly and, most recently The Knot of the Heart. Previously, he was Associate Director at Mercury Theatre, Colchester (1972-74), Leeds Playhouse (1974-79), Young Vic (1979-80) and Artistic Director at the Palace Theatre, Watford (1980-84), and Hampstead Theatre (1984-89), and was Principal Associate Director for the Royal Shakespeare Company (1990-2002). On leaving the Royal Shakespeare Company he became an Honorary Associate Artist. Attenborough's freelance work includes productions at The National Theatre, the Royal Court, in the West End and on Broadway.
Reasons To Be Pretty will be the third play by Neil LaBute that Attenborough has directed during his artistic directorship of The Almeida Theatre. Because of extended feature film commitments, LaBute is no longer available to direct as previously announced.
Neil LaBute's Reasons To Be Pretty is the third play in his trilogy about physical appearance - the first two being The Shape of Things and Fat Pig. The Almeida began its relationship with LaBute in 2000 when it presented his bash: latter-day plays. Their close association with the playwright continued with productions of The Shape of Things, The Distance From Here, The Mercy Seat and In a Dark Dark House. LaBute's other plays include Autobahn, Fat Pig, Some Girls, This Is How It Goes , and In A Forest Dark and Deep. LaBute received his Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing from New York University and was the recipient of a literary fellowship to study at The Royal Court Theatre and attended The Sundance Institute's Playwrights Lab. His films include In the Company of Men, for which he won the New York Critics' Circle Award for Best First Feature and the Filmmakers' Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival, Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, Possession and The Shape of Things - a film adaptation of his play by the same title. LaBute is the author of several fictional pieces that have been published in The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Playboy among others, and Seconds of Pleasure, a collection of his short stories was published by Grove Atlantic.
The Almeida Theatre is grateful to its Principal Partner Aspen whose new three year commitment started this summer, building on the existing long term relationship between the two companies. Aspen's commitment to The Almeida Theatre will ensure continued bold programming, artistic endeavour and risk taking. Aspen, established in 2002, is a leading specialty insurance and reinsurance company with over 670 employees in eight countries. www.aspen.bm
The Almeida Theatre is supported by Arts Council England.
Photo Credit: Matt Humphrey