The Ugly One – Dark Comedy’s Cutting Edge

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The Ugly One – rehearsal photos

By Lorraine Payette, written August 7, 2014

(Gananoque, ON) Lette has found success in the business world. As an engineer, he’s at the top of his field with a brilliant new invention bound to make all kinds of money. But as fate would have it, he’s also unspeakably ugly. Even his own wife finds it hard to look at him, so he decides to go under the knife and have the problem corrected once and for all. The surgery is an overwhelming success, and he emerges as an Adonis – irresistible to women, the envy of every man he knows. Fame, fortune, everything he wants is there for the taking. But his nightmare truly begins when the surgeon decides he will now sell this same magnificent face to anyone with the money to pay…

“This play is a play I directed in the past at my little theatre company, Theatre Smash,” said Ashlie Corcoran, artistic director of the Thousand Islands Playhouse. “It’s a company I founded in 2005 and still run in Toronto. When we did this play in 2011, it was a smash hit and we were nominated for six Dora Awards.”

The play has been highly acclaimed, and was recognized by the Dora Mavor Moore Awards. The “Doras” are an annual ceremony to honour theatre, dance and opera productions in Toronto. The Ugly One was nominated for Outstanding Production/Direction/Set/Costume/Sound and Lighting Design, receiving awards for Outstanding Production and Set Design (Camellia Koo). In 2014, the play was remounted at the Tarragon Theatre and was again nominated, this time for Outstanding Set, Sound and Ensemble in the general category.

Now it is being remounted in Gananoque destined once again to become a major hit.

Only an hour in length, The Ugly One looks into the many aspects of physical pulchritude and its overall importance as to where we stand in society. A cast of four portray several different characters, from Lette himself (Alex Poch-Goldin) through his wife Fanny (Tracy Michailidis), his boss Scheffler (Hardee T. Lineham), junior assistant Karlmann (Jesse Aaron Dwyre) and the surgeon, nurse and others. This study in black-and-white focuses sharply on the shallowness in society where people perceive themselves and their worth through the limited facet of personal appearance, and base their opinions on nothing else.

And what greater horror could there be than to see your face reproduced everywhere, to realize what you believed to be your very essence is instead a cheap bauble that can be bought and sold to any who can afford to have it done?

“I read this play in 2009 and it took a couple of years to get the rights for it,” said Corcoran. “This particular translation had been done at the Royal Court in London, England, and the holder of the rights was waiting for a big splash New York production, so I had to be persistent.

“I have now directed it three times. I’m really interested in plays where content and form are working together, so I love the crazy construct of having three actors play multiple parts with all the same names, and one actor going through these huge transformations that are all about using the audience’s imagination and the audience’s ability to project.

“The forum itself is critiquing how we live in society as we project these ideas and views onto each other.

“I also love theater which uses many different elements to tell stories. When you come to the play, you get to see how sound and lights are incorporated, as well as sets, costumes and the actors themselves.

“I love it because Mayenburg, the playwright, is making some pretty big social criticisms, but he does it in this very funny, dark humourous sort of way that never makes you feel like he’s being didactic or telling you what to think. He throws a lot of questions up in the air, tells it you in a very entertaining way, and you can either choose to engage with those questions or choose not to and just enjoy the fun and the humour of the piece. I love theater that invites people to think. That’s what is so great about The Ugly One – it isn’t forcing you, but it is offering you the opportunity.”

The Ugly One runs from August 15 – September 20, 2014, at the Firehall Theatre, 185 South Street in Gananoque, Ontario. Running time for the play is 1 hours. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 pm, with matinees on Fridays and Saturdays at 2:30 pm (starting the Friday after opening night). Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors age 65+, $16 for students. HST is applicable to all ticket prices. Group tickets are available at $26 – $28 each including GST. This show is recommended for people aged 16 and up due to sexy and provocative content. TalkBack Tuesdays with The Ugly One – casual post-show chats happen immediately after Tuesday performances in the Firehall Theatre. Come hear backstage stories from the actors in the show! For more information, please go to http://www.1000islandsplayhouse.com or contact the box office at 613-382-7020.

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