Theater Review: 'The Ugly One'

Marius von Mayenberg's 'The Ugly One' is a wickedly witty, cynical play about image, self-image and the nature of beauty.

Theater Review 88 (photo credit: )
Theater Review 88
(photo credit: )
The Ugly One By Marius von Mayenberg Translated by Avishai Milstein Directed by Ari Remez Haifa Theater December 15 Mayenberg's The Ugly One is a wickedly witty, cynical play about image, self-image and the nature of beauty to which director, actors and designers give full due. Gifted and versatile actor Norman Issa plays Lette, who only discovers his terminal ugliness when his company shrinks from sending him to a sales conference. Plastic surgery turns him into an Adonis, so much so that pretty soon opportunistic surgeon Scheffler (Sharon Alexander) creates a small army of look-alikes and Lette starts to have serious problems. Yarden Bar-Kochba plays Fanny, Lette's wife - a septuagenarian and very wealthy nymphomaniac. Yoav Bar-Lev is both her gay son and Lette's colleague, while Alexander also portrays his amoral boss. Wisely, Ari Remez lets the action complement the words. There is no unnecessary business, nothing that distracts. Were it any more minimalist, Lily Ben-Nachshon's white-on-white set would disappear. The very enjoyable actors, clad in various shades of gray, manage the transitions between characters and venues with virtuoso aplomb. The audience laughs (heartily) with, not at, the characters, because their behavior generates humor rather than manufactures it. Remez, who made an impressive directorial debut at the 2007 Acre Festival with The 21st Century, here continues to fulfill that promise.