It’s theatre night again, and tonight we’re off to see The Ugly One. OK, get all the jokes about mirrors out of your system now.
First up, a trip to fave restaurant Zibibbo for a pre-theatre bite. Unfortunately we were a bit late getting there so only had time for the shared charcuterie plate and mains, before we hurried across the road to Circa Theatre for the main event.
The Ugly One (originally, Der Häßliche by Marius Von Mayenburg), satirises the modern obsession with looks and appearance. The protagonist, Lette, has developed a kind of connector plug for his employer, and naturally expects to be given the job of presenting it at an industry conference. The travel documents are sent to his assistant. “Shoorly shome mishtake?” he thinks, and goes to see his boss, Scheffler, to clear up the misunderstanding. But there is no misunderstanding. It appears that no-one has ever told Lette the terrible truth: he is ugly. No-one will buy the product from an ugly man. The much better-looking assistant is to go in his place.
Lette goes home to confront his beautiful wife, who won’t look him in the eye. Actually, that’s what she does do: she only ever looks fixedly at his left eye, rather than his whole face, which she has always considered “catastrophic”. “But you have a beautiful voice!” she says.
Lette decides to have plastic surgery to get a new face, and, once the bandages come off, is now indescribably beautiful. Naturally, the job of presenting the connector plug is quickly restored to the rightful person, and Lette is further exploited by Scheffler to help his company. He is also, unknowingly, exploited by his plastic surgeon, who decides that he can make more money by giving this perfect face to all and sundry.
To further emphasise the rather blunt instrument of the satire, 8 parts are played by the four actors, who never leave the stage, or change costumes. Indeed, all of them are dressed in grey business suits throughout, and the set is a minimalist two sofas facing each other, an office chair and a wheeled cart for the plastic surgery props.
It’s a short play with no interval, but it packed quite a punch in the space of an hour.