Beauty will literally be in the eye of the beholder when The Ugly One by Marius von Mayenburg makes its Sydney debut this week at the SBW Stable Theare.
Director Sarah Giles is staging another contemporary German play through Griffin’s Independent Theatre arm following up from the highly successful run of The Pigeons last year.
The black comedy centres on Lette (Eden Falk), an apparently very unfortunate looking man who does not realise this until he wishes to make a speech at a convention and his boss refuses – because he is just too hideously repulsive. Lette undergoes extreme plastic surgery metamorphosing from incredibly ugly to incredibly beautiful.
And how is all this done in an intimate theatre venue? Surely there will be detailed prosthetics or a cast change?
According to actor Gig Clarke, no trickery will be used to make the transformation from grim to glam and the audience will be creating their own aesthetic reality.
“This guy goes from not really caring about his appearance… to suddenly people treat him so differently once he’s beautiful,” says Clarke. “The world changes for him and because of that he changes too.”
Clarke says that the play’s complex combination of the absurd and the real make it a hard taskmaster in the rehearsal room.
“The humour is very dry, very crisp. It’s like the whole play is weirdly sort of bleached and direct – it’s very German.”
“That’s what’s amazing about the play is that there are these moments where – in the middle of a scene – you’ll realise that it is not who you think it is talking.”
Clarke says that despite the show’s serious themes and “brutal exchanges” it’s going to be very entertaining, and running at about an hour – the audience will be enjoying a post-show glass of wine by 8 o’clock.