Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Reasons to Be Pretty: A Play

Reasons to Be Pretty: A Play

5.0 3
by Neil LaBute

See All Formats & Editions

In Reasons to Be Pretty, Greg's tight-knit social circle is thrown into turmoil when his offhand remarks about a female coworker's pretty face and his own girlfriend Steph's lack thereof get back to Steph. But that's just the beginning. Greg's best buddy, Kent, and Kent's wife, Carly, also enter into the picture, and the emotional equation becomes


In Reasons to Be Pretty, Greg's tight-knit social circle is thrown into turmoil when his offhand remarks about a female coworker's pretty face and his own girlfriend Steph's lack thereof get back to Steph. But that's just the beginning. Greg's best buddy, Kent, and Kent's wife, Carly, also enter into the picture, and the emotional equation becomes exponentially more complicated. As their relationships crumble, the four friends are forced to confront a sea of deceit, infidelity, and betrayed trust in their journey to answer that oh-so-American question: How much is pretty worth?

Neil LaBute's bristling new comic drama puts the final ferocious cap on a trilogy of plays that began with The Shape of Things and Fat Pig. America's obsession with physical beauty is confronted headlong in this brutal and exhilarating work.

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
157 KB

Read an Excerpt

Reasons to Be Pretty

A Play

By Neil LaBute

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2008 Neil LaBute
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9623-5


Act One

Lights burst on.

At home. Two people in their bedroom, already deep in the middle of it. A nice little fight. Wham!

GREG ... No, no, no, no, no, uh-uh, no!


GREG No, that's not it! / I didn't say that!

STEPH Don't lie, you fucker! / Yes, you did!

GREG Steph ...

STEPH No, don't, do not "Steph" me right now!

GREG Come on, Stephanie ...

STEPH Don't do that, you prick! Don't play the "Stephanie" game, do not do it!

GREG But I didn't say anything, I'm telling you the truth here! And I definitely didn't use that word, so ... that's ...

STEPH Bullshit!

GREG I didn't! I would never say that about you, ever, and I'm not gonna be ...

STEPH Bull-shit!/ BULLSHIT! Fucker ...

GREG I did not, I don't care what she said to you ... / I didn't say "ugly"! No. I'm ...

STEPH She was in the other room, you bastard! In the next room, OK, so don't try and Lance Armstrong your way outta this one!

GREG I'm not! / I barely mentioned you, that's all. In a nice way. It wasn't, like, some big ...

STEPH Backpedaling like some ... / Fuck you.

GREG Look, God, I just wanna go to ...

STEPH I don't care what you wanna do. Dick.

GREG OK, would you stop, please?

STEPH I'm not gonna stop, no, for what? Huh?! What for?

GREG Because I'm, I'm, so I can explain the ...

STEPH You don't need to, I've already heard all the explanations I wanna hear and I don't believe you. You get that?/ I-do-not-ever-believe-the-shit-that-comes-out-of-your-mouth. Ever.

GREG Yes. / Yeah, well, that's fucked. OK?

STEPH No, you're fucked, that's what's fucked here, mister, you are ... you are fucked. Big time.

GREG This is just stupid, so I'm not gonna ...

STEPH Don't do it! Do not walk out of here when we're fighting or I swear to God I'll ... I will murder your fish when you're gone. I'll flush them or I'll, I'll do whatever it takes but I will hurt you and you will not like it! That's what I'll do so you'd better just stay right there — no, I don't want you to come over and hold me, God no — but you better stay around and argue this shit out or I'm gonna ... wreck your life a little bit. Swear I fucking will — I don't care if I'm late going in or not. So.

They both stop for a moment, letting this sink in. STEPH angrily piles her hair into a makeshift bun-type thing.

GREG Man, this is ... you're talking nuts now. / Seriously.

STEPH Don't say that, either. / I mean, boy, if you're looking for things to get shitty then OK, but otherwise I wouldn't say a thing like that, not anything about being psycho or that sorta junk. / Uh-uh. No.

GREG Stephanie, listen ... / Please ...

STEPH Fuck "please." Please is shit. Please is like something you crap out in your pants and are too embarrassed to clean up ... I'm not gonna even listen to "please." No.

GREG OK, then, I don't know what to say to you about this ... because ...

STEPH The truth. I might be willing to overlook your general fuckheadedness if I felt as if the truth might be on its way at some point here ...

GREG I'm telling you the ... whole ...

STEPH Don't say it if it's not because I will know and you know that I'll know. You'll know it and I will pounce on you like I was death itself if you're lying to me ... Seriously. Like fucking death.

GREG Ya know, you swear a lot when you're mad.

STEPH Fuck. You.

GREG I'm just saying ...

STEPH And I'm saying "fuck you." If that's all you can do right now, try and dilute the issue at hand by sidetracking us ... / Or getting us all turned around by ...

GREG ... I'm just pointing it out ... / I'm not, Iswear I'm not, but you're being all ...

STEPH ... or, or trying to make me laugh or any of that shit that you usually do, then "fuck you" is what I have to say! To you.

GREG Fine then.

STEPH Yeah, fine.


STEPH O-kay. (Beat.) So?

GREG What? And don't you have to be at work?

STEPH Don't deflect me, asshole ...

GREG I'm not! I'm just trying to be ... STEPH What did you say that she heard and then called me about? / Hmmm? What?

GREG I didn't ... / God ...

STEPH I'm telling you the truth about what I'll do to you. I am.

GREG Steph ...

STEPH Greg ...

GREG I really didn't say anything! (Beat.) It's not, I mean, did she say that I ... ? What?

STEPH You don't remember? Hmmm?

GREG No. I mean, I was talking to Kent and we were laughing about stuff, about, like, I dunno — work and how this new guy who's a real goof has been begging us to join our softball team so we're joking about whatever and ... that's all. / Come on, Steph, you know how we are when we get ...

STEPH Yeah? / What?

GREG Just talking! Jesus. Going on about our lives and situations and ... / Nothing! It's no big deal, anything we said, and if she is gonna call you every time I open up my mouth over at their place, then I'm never gonna go there again! All right? I'm not ...

STEPH And? / Wow, bet she'll be crushed.

GREG I'm just saying ... I'm sick of her acting like a cop even when she's off duty. She isn't one, OK, she's not. / She's a — it's basically like being a hall monitor.

STEPH Fine then. / And so you're talking ...

GREG Honey, come on ... don't be all ...

STEPH No, tell me. Tell me what you said.

GREG I didn't say any ...

STEPH About me. You said it loud enough for her to hear it, for her to repeat it to me in complete detail — verbatim — so you can say it to my face ... Go on.

GREG Jesus ...

STEPH Nope, that wasn't it.

GREG Stephanie, stop it ...

STEPH You want me to say it? How 'bout if we do it that way — I say it to you and you tell me if it's true or not?

GREG I'm not, no ... that's stupid, so no.

STEPH You sure? Maybe it's easier that way — treat you like a preschooler.

GREG I don't need anything to be easier, OK, I don't ... Look, I'm not scared of you or about anything I said because it wasn't a big deal; we had a few beers and maybe we were a bit loud out in the garage where we were talking, but I didn't say ... shit.

STEPH She was in the kitchen, Greg. Door to the kitchen was open. Voices travel. They're made up of sound, case you didn't know ...

GREG Yeah, I'm down with the basic scientific principles, Steph, thanks very much for the ... know-how there.

STEPH And so she's cooking up some ground beef for tacos on the stove and she hears you, plain as day, going on about me and there is no doubt in her mind — that's none, no doubt of any kind — that you said exactly what she repeated to me ...

GREG I see. (Beat.) Over the sound of hot meat she can hear me talking?

STEPH Awww, you're so ... / You asshole ...

GREG I'm just asking! / Don't I get to ask any shit here or is it just a one-sided deal we got going now?

STEPH Don't be a complete cock, all right? Don't. I know that's your soup of the jour but, please, just give me a little ... GREG Fine! So she can hear me talking — she's suddenly like Wonder Woman or something and from an entire room away she hears me and what I'm saying to Kent as we're out there banging away on his Chevelle. Is that it?

STEPH You mean the Bionic Woman, not Wonder Woman — who had various powers but hearing wasn't one of 'em — I mean, of course she could hear, she wasn't deaf, but not in any special way. The Bionic Woman had the super hearing ... smart guy ...

GREG Whatever! You know what I mean ...

STEPH I do, yeah, that's why I just corrected you on it. / Bionic Woman. Lindsay Wagner.

GREG Great. / Thanks.

STEPH Doesn't matter, you're just deflecting it again ... Yes, she heard you guys, clear as day. / Or a bell, or whatever ...

GREG Fine. / OK, and? And?


GREG What'd she say? I mean, that I said?

STEPH Oh, so now you want me to say it ...

GREG If you need to so bad ...

STEPH I thought you didn't want me to, thought you said it was stupid.

GREG That was before ...

STEPH "Before"?

GREG Yeah, before.

STEPH "Before" what?

GREG Before ... you pissed me off.

STEPH Oh. Oh, I see ... (Beat.) Before I pissed you off? You're pissed off now?! Fucker! / God, you are such a prick, Greg ...

GREG And again with the mouth. / Stop! My God, you're like a Chris Rock concert or something ... with all the ...

STEPH Fuck you, as swipe! AHHHHHHHH!

GREG Can we not make the entire building aware of your psychotic break with reality?

STEPH Fuck you, fuck you, FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!

GREG OK, you know what, I don't need to stand here and take this ... I don't. Throw the fish in the toilet again, it's not like I'm gonna be surprised — I'm not about to hang out here and get abused like this. / I'm not. (Beat.) You've got a real issue with your temper there, Steph ...

STEPH No, don't you ... / Don't you even ...

GREG I'm sorry but it's true — you're acting a little like one of those chicks from the seventies who started taking shots at President Ford or somebody ... a fucking nutcase!

STEPH Shut up, fuckhead. / You fucker ...

GREG I mean it. / You're crazy — a goddamn loon!

STEPH Tell me what you said. / TELL ME, I just want you to say it and then I'll stop!

GREG No ... / No, you're ...

STEPH Say it! / SAY IT!

GREG It's not ... / I didn't say ... How did this happen, why are you such a freak? I mean, this is like a serious personality glitch you've got there ...


GREG Stephanie, stop it or I'll call the cops myself, I will. / STOP! (Beat.) It'll be me this time, OK, not the neighbors! I'm not kidding around here! Seriously ...

STEPH THEN SAY IT! SAY IT. (Dead calm.) Just do it and I will quit.

GREG waits for a moment, gathers himself.STEPH watching his every move. Coiled.

GREG Fine. / (Checks watch.) It's almost quarter of.

STEPH Fine. / Prick ... do it. GO!

GREG I will. / I'm going to ...

STEPH Then-do-it. / Then ...

GREG ... stop. OK? Just stop. (Beat.) Kent said something about a new girl at work, some younger gal who just got hired — she's not in our division but over in the shipping office, works swing — and he thought she was hot. Said she was pretty and I agreed and that was all. Really. / Yeah.

STEPH That's it? / Huh.

GREG No big deal. I mean, look ... he's always had an eye for, you know, whatever. It's not my fault — I was just going along ... (Beat.) And I don't know why she's gotta be saying something about me, stirring up trouble ... I mean, fuck, I wasn't the guy talking shit about some other — you know. I mean, think about that. OK? Just ... ask yourself that question. About her. Or ...

STEPH I see. (Beat.) And nothing about me?

GREG I'm ... / I don't think I said any ...

STEPH You didn't say anything about me compared to her? Nothing? / No?

GREG No. No, not in comparison or ... / Nope.

STEPH Or anything like that? At all?/ You got this far, don't fuck it up now ...

GREG I said ... No, what I said was, I know what I said now ... This is it. I said this. It was, like, ummm, "Yeah, well, maybe Steph hasn't got a face like that girl's — maybe her face is just regular — but I wouldn't trade her for a million bucks." Something like that. / You know ... / I was just ...

STEPH Oh. / Ahhhh. / "Regular."

GREG Yeah. That was all ... I'm ... yes. Regular.


GREG See? I never said "ugly."/ I just ...

STEPH Uh-huh. / Yep. That's what Carly said to me you said. Those exact words.

GREG All right then. Which was not meant as any sort of comparison. / It wasn't.

STEPH No? / Really?

GREG At all. It was more of, like, a point of contrast — with you as the good thing.

STEPH Huh. (Beat.) Even though she's beautiful?

GREG Pretty. Yeah. It was meant as a compliment.

STEPH I see ... (Beat.) Well, guess what?

STEPH gathers herself and heads to the door. Picks up an ashtray and fires it across the room at GREG. Just misses him and smashes against the wall.

STEPH It fucking isn't!

STEPH storms out, leaving GREG alone in the room. He sits down on an ottoman and runs his hands through his hair. A slow shake of his head.

GREG ... Oh, boy.

At work. GREG and KENT sitting around the break room of their workplace. In jumpsuits. Just finishing up their lunch — it's after midnight and they're both tired. Third-shifters.

KENT ... and then what?

GREG She left. Drove off. / Took my car ...

KENT Wow. / Bitch.

GREG Yeah. To her parents' house or some crap like that, you know?

KENT Right.

GREG Making a statement.

KENT Exactly.

GREG Threw an ashtray at me, actually, and one of those pots, you know, with the handle on it ...

KENT No, what?

GREG You know, where you make, like, pancakes and shit ... You know ...

KENT That's a pan. Frying pan. / Or skillet, if you wanna get fancy.

GREG Oh. / Yeah, well, one of those ...

KENT Whoa. (Beat.) I thought you said a "pot."

GREG Whatever. It went whizzing by my head — I didn't exactly take stock, I ducked. Stuck my head in the kitchen and bam!

KENT Fuck. (Beat.) Just so you know, though ... it's a pan.

GREG Fine! God ...

KENT Dude, I used to work over at Denny's, so ... I should know. 'S a pan.

GREG OK, well, that's what she threw ...


GREG And nothing. Haven't heard a word since. Two days.


GREG No call, no text, nothing. I rang up their place but I'm only getting the answering machine. (Beat.) Her mom's eating this up, I'm sure. She hates me ...

KENT Figures.

GREG Yeah. Left a message, anyway. (Beat.) I'm just, like, totally baffled by this ...

KENT nods and yawns — checks his watch. He slaps GREG on the back. GREG flinches as he opens up an energy snack.

KENT What's that?

GREG PowerBar.

KENT Why're you having that?

GREG What do you mean?

KENT You just had lunch — now you're having one of those, too?

GREG Uh-huh. 'S the only way I'll make it to break ... KENT That doesn't make sense ... GREG They're good, though. Supposed to give ya a little jolt of energy.

KENT Yeah, but they're for, you know, like, as a supplement. If you don't have a meal or instead of — not after you already ate.


KENT They're not dessert. Even with all the chocolate on it ...

GREG Huh. (Beat.) I think it's carob.

KENT Whatever! That's like having two meals.

GREG So? That's OK ...

KENT I guess. If you wanna get fat it is ...

GREG I'm not gonna get fat because I had one of these things — it's all natural stuff in it. Nuts and ... I dunno. Seeds.

KENT You'd be surprised.

GREG Yeah, but ... I mean, athletes eat 'em all the time. Olympians and whoever.

KENT Are you out running? Or swimming? Hmmm? I don't see you doing cardio work or, like, lifting. Nothing. Athletes get away with that shit because they're always active, chipping away at their bodies. Not you. (Beat.) Shoving anything you find on the counter over there into your stomach ...

GREG Kent, it's a fucking snack! Take it easy.

KENT Just pointing it out — got a group of guys counting on ya is all ...

GREG Fine.

KENT And getting all chubby is not the way to win her back. / Or your face breaking out.

GREG Nice! / Thank you. (Beat.) Shit ...

KENT Well ... need you strong and fast for the team, man. Can't have any dead weight.

GREG That's really sensitive, thanks.

KENT Dude, it's for you — I'm throwing a little love your way, don't be a hater.

GREG Just shut up, OK? (Beat.) You got me out in right field. How good do I gotta be?

KENT Good enough to get us that motherfucking trophy! Huh? / (Pumps his fist.) Oh yeah!

KENT stands, points to a dusty shelf above the cabinets whereseveral other trophies stand. Nothing very new.

GREG I guess ... / Yep. (Mock yell.) Woooaa!

KENT Dude, come on! Be serious now ... (Beat.) They haven't brought one a those home since I started working here — last one was in, like, eighty-six or something. That's pathetic! (He slaps the table and sits.) This is the year! Without question.

GREG nods and checks a wall clock against his watch. Yawns.

KENT Third sucks.

GREG Yep. Pretty much.

KENT Even with the over time ...

GREG Agreed. (Yawns.) I'm so beat, man ...

KENT 'Cept for that new girl. Damn, she's good-looking! / What? / I'm just saying. She's a fox ... (Beat.) I gotta take a dump.

GREG Ha! / You never change ... / Go for it.

KENT Can't. I'm waiting for Carly — she's out on rounds. (Grins.) How gay is that?

GREG Very. (Beat.) She pisses me off.

KENT Hey man, don't blame her for this.

GREG I don't.

KENT Good, because you're the one who said it.


Excerpted from Reasons to Be Pretty by Neil LaBute. Copyright © 2008 Neil LaBute. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Neal LaBute's most recent works for the stage include This Is How It Goes (Faber, 2005) and Fat Pig (Faber, 2004), which won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off Broadway Play.

Neil Labute—an acclaimed playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker—is the author of plays including The Shape of Things, The Mercy Seat, Fat Pig, and the Tony Award-nominated Reasons to Be Pretty. He has written and directed films including In the Company of Men (starring Aaron Eckhart), The Shape of Things (starring  Paul Rudd and Rachel Weisz), and the 2006 American adaptation of The Wicker Man (starring Nicholas Cage).

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Reasons to Be Pretty 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't expect the play to be so great, but I actually loved it. The dialogue is really similar and isn't so strict. I really enjoyed this play. I would definitely recommend!
Heather Bronson More than 1 year ago
This play has a multitude of assets. As a play, it strengh lies in its accessabilty. There are four characters and few settings, which could easily be produced. As it is a smallscale play, the scenery coukd be very minimalistic. The characters are all very strong and dynamic, each serving a purpose. Every character has traits which compliment the other's to form the story of how we relate to each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago