Reasons to Be Pretty - Act Two

Reasons to Be Pretty is a hard-edged comedy written by Neil LaBute. It is the third and final installment of a trilogy. The trio of plays (which also include The Shape of Things and Fat Pig) are connected not by characters or plot but by the recurring theme of body image within American society. Reasons to Be Pretty premiered on Broadway in 2008. It was nominated for three Tony Awards (Best Play, Best Leading Actress, and Best Leading Actor).

The following is a summary and analysis of the events in Act Two. Read the synopsis and character outline of Act One.

Scene One - After the Break Up:

Act Two of Reasons to Be Pretty begins in the lobby of a restaurant. Steph and Greg unexpectedly encounter each other. Steph is on a date, and the former couple awkwardly make small talk, attempting to be pleasant. The conversation segues to nostalgia for their good times together, which then transitions into the familiar argument about body image and their break up.

She smacks him, then just as suddenly tries to apologize. However, Greg has had enough. He tells her that her date will eventually hurt her feelings too, and that he won't be there to help her. Somehow, they cool down and wish each other well on their lives without one another.

Scene Two:

Carly visits Greg (who is yet again reading some classic literature). He comments that has not seen Kent lately.

After trying to flatter him, Carly then wants to ask him an important question about Kent. Before the question, Carly reveals that she is three months pregnant.

She suspects that Kent is cheating on her. At first, Greg contends that he does not believe that Kent is unfaithful. Carly continues to pressure him, asking Greg to look her in the eye and say he doesn't know anything.

She asks if Greg was out with Kent and girls, but Greg lies and says that it was just guys from work. This relieves Carly for the time being. She tells him: "I don't know why God made it so hard for us to trust you guys but he did, and it sucks."

Scene Three:

Greg and Kent prepare for work-related softball game. Kent says that he expects Carly to "hit the gym" the day after the baby is born. He thanks Greg for covering up his affair, and begins to recount his recent sexual exploits with Crystal, the "hot girl" from the office.

Greg tries to explain that he no longer lie about Kent's affair. This irks Kent, who feels that Greg is being judgmental. He repeatedly calls Greg a "pussy." Greg tries to get the upper hand, hinting that he might tell Carly the truth, but Kent believes that he is bluffing. He claims that Greg would never tell because he is afraid of people disliking him. Kent bullies him, wrestles him to the ground, and then calls his ex-girlfriend "ugly."

Greg finally stands up to Kent, not just because he is obnoxious, not just because he is an adulterer, and not just because of his comments about Steph. Before he beats Kent up, Greg explains that he is doing it "Because you need it, okay?

For who you are and what you have done, and for all the sh*t you will no doubt perpetrate for the rest of your life."

After over-powering his ex-friend, Greg leaves Kent, who fumes in rage.

Scene Four:

Carly and Greg are hanging out in the break room. She chats about her pregnancy. In hopes of showing Carly the truth about her husband, Greg strongly suggests that she takes the evening off and go home to her husband. She follows his advice. Although we never see the confrontation between Carly and Kent, it is implied that Carly will discover the truth about her husband's affair, and will move onto a new chapter in her life.

Immediately after Carly leaves, Stephanie stops by to share the news: she is engaged to be married. Steph has become a manager at her hair salon. Greg has plans to go to college, realizing that he doesn't want to work at a warehouse for the rest of his life.

Steph admits that she cannot stop thinking about Greg, yet at the same time believes that she will be much happier with her soon-to-be husband. Greg apologizes and is very understanding. He emphasizes that she has a pretty face, making her feel better. He also admits that he is simply drifting, and that their four years together may never have turned into marriage.

She leaves, but not before kissing him good bye one last time. Although they do not rekindle the relationship, the characters in Reasons to Be Pretty represent a rather optimistic view on relationships and young, middle class Americans. In comparison to the protagonist in Fat Pig, Greg exhibits both courage and selflessness by the end of the play.