Marius von Mayenburg's theatrical brainchild, The Ugly One asks and answers questions about humanity, our obsessions with aesthetic, appearance, and conforming to social norms. It is a hard-hitter accented with enough comedy and satire to keep audiences involved, and had received widespread critical acclaim globally.
The German playwright tells the story of the ugliest man in the world, Lette, who is so unfortunate looking that his employers forbid him to promote his industrial innovation. Only now discovering that he is not just your average 6/10, Lette is distraught at discovering the extent of his ugliness and visits a plastic surgeon, who subsequently turns his ugly mug into an Adonis-like sculpture that has women and men alike falling to their knees before him. This would make for an Ugly Duckling-esque happily ever after if it weren't for the inevitable followers, who upon seeing Lette’s surgical success, visit the same surgeon, and are turned into near exact replicas of our protagonist. It’s like a grown-ups version of the age-old “it’s our differences that make us beautiful” spiel.
A small but talented cast bring Mayenburg’s script to life, a script which has been expertly translated from German by Maja Zade, and directed by theatre vet Giles Burton, known for his outstanding direction of Calendar Girls in 2013. The Ugly One is 2015’s most promising nominee for best comical modern fairy tale.