Theatre Smash’s production of Marius von Mayenburg’s dystopic one act The Ugly One is a whole lot of funny and whole whack of unsettling all wrapped into a tiny 1 hour package.
Director Ashlie Corcoran and designer Camellia Koo pair to stage Maja Zade’s superb translation of the excellent play in a unique and effective way, using Tarragon Theatre’s Extra Space to full effect with a massive multi-use table taking up 80% of the playing area and characters joining the audience to observe during their down time. Jason Hand’s excellent lighting design makes interesting use of brightness to startle the audience out of its stupors and mimic the trademark surroundings of an operating room or big budget corporate presentation.
The cast is similarly exceptional. Summerworks standout Jesse Aaron Dwyre gives an excellently underhanded performance as an ambitious young inventor and Naomi Wright moves swiftly from role to role with standout comic timing. David Jansen grounds the action excellently as Lette, a grotesquely ugly man whose total facial reconstruction leads to a harrowing tale of image obsession, conformity, corporate competition and the things we’ll do to be and stay “ideal”.
It’s a remarkable piece of theatre. Down to the visceral use of on-stage sound effects to recreate the violent surgeries, The Ugly One is a piece that really stays with you.
The Ugly One plays in Tarragon’s Extra Space in Toronto, ON until October 16th.