Review: Extra/Beautiful/U

theatre play featuring a hospital bed Extra Beautiful U

There were some beautiful moments in Extra/Beautiful/U (written by Michaela Di Cesare). However, it was like experiencing the merging of several smaller plays. Di Cesare has written the trifecta of “Woke  theatre.” We meet a lesbian surgeon who will save the main persona Lara (Madaleine Scovil) whom she has known since grade school. It was also unbelievable that this surgeon could have grown up and gone to university in Canada yet still sports a thick Italian accent.

The trans nurse, well played by Sean Ryan, postpones their own operation to work on helping the surgeon rebuild the beautiful face of Lara. The most heart wrenching story is a sub-plot which involves the central character, Lara, her mother (most believably played by Toni Ellwand), and the child /sister with Downs Syndrome played by Stephanie Torriani. This mini drama of a mother and sister torn apart by the exigences of care giving is the heart of the play, but it is buried by the smaller melodramas which encase it.

It may be politically incorrect, but although I think it is lovely to have cast Stephani, her speech was difficult to understand. At least one fifth of the play was incomprehensible. The blocking and pacing of this work was weak and mystifying. It was a minimalist set and the entrances, exits, and furniture moving took too long. In a play as confusing as this, timing is very important.

It was also very difficult to understand what happened in the key car accident which tore away Lara’s beauty. Why was she suddenly reviled? What was it about Instagram and all the other platforms that ties these stories together? Is this play generationally specific or can one be too old to get it?

Here’s hoping that in the future this playwright who had shown such talent and vision in her early plays will find a dramaturg worthy of her vision. 

Extra/Beautiful/U is at the Centaur Theatre (453 Saint Francois-Xavier) until December 9.