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Theatre Review: “The Ugly One,” At The Walnut

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(Bill Van Horn and Ben Dibble in "The Ugly One," at the Walnut Street Theatre.  Photo provided)

(Bill Van Horn and Ben Dibble in “The Ugly One,” at the Walnut Street Theatre. Photo provided)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If you’ve ever thought of facial surgery as a way to correct personal problems, you might enjoy this dark comedy at the Walnut Street Theatre’s small “Studio On 3.”

But I have mixed feelings about this European import.

It’s called “The Ugly One,” and it’s the creation of a German playwright whose offering made it big on the London stage.

It deals with a gifted inventor forbidden by his boss from making a trip to promote his inventions because the inventor lacks “external beauty.”  He’s unattractive.  Ugly, you might say.  A condition about which even his very attractive wife concurs.

So our sad inventor enlists a facial surgeon who transforms our sad soul into a handsome dandy and, almost overnight, our world is filled with inventor lookalikes.

It’s a drama poking fun at our obsession with external beauty and the brutality of capitalism.  The Walnut’s director, Debi Marcucci,  switched the set to Southern California, where the nastiness seems more appropriate.

There are four actors playing seven parts, highlighted by the popular Ben Dibble as the central character.

“The Ugly One” may have raised an international rumpus in Europe, but the production here seems little more than overworked silliness.

It’s set to run through March 13th, at the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street, in center city Philadelphia.

Reviewed by Bob Nelson, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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