Already closed | 1h 50m | Midtown W

If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka

From 95 member  reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Relevant, Clever

About the show

Playwrights Horizons presents a decidedly contemporary riff on a West African fable.  More…

In the village of Affreakah-Amirrorkah, no one questions that Akim is the one true, perfect beauty — not even her jealous classmates. But they’ll be damned before they let her be the leading lady in this story. Tori Sampson’s explosive epic is brimming with live music and dance, as these frenemies jockey for their rank in a culture built on ideals forever out of reach.

Member Reviews (95)


Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Relevant, Clever
Avg Score

Poor staging, Dizzying, Disappointing, Banal

See it if I didn’t connect with this show. It’s the first time a set took away from a work for me. It was a simple fable stretched to 100 min.

Don't see it if You want a compelling story that moves you.

Indulgent, Disappointing, Colorful, Energetic, Ambitious

See it if you missed "The African Mean Girls Play" & want a 2nd rate version w/a simplistic, superficial message about inner beauty vs outer beauty.

Don't see it if you want to avoid a 110 min journey that leads to a banal, clichéd, pretentious, abrupt ending.

Also Stylistically, this is an ambitious production, even if a number of th... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Slow, Great singing, Banal, Ambitious

See it if Trumpeting a darker shade of beautiful on the spectrum:"I'm a solid '6'/ '7' if I get to show off my legs/'8' if you take time 2discover me"

Don't see it if Unimaginative set of 35 rows of footlights upended to match the writing.

Also Sample lyric:"This is my 'me loving me' debut." Beyonce-inspired title... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Profound, Intelligent, Great writing, Funny

See it if you’re interested in African settings, female-driven shows, or works that explore concepts of beauty and worth.

Don't see it if you prefer dialogue that’s clear as day. This story is told in an almost poetic way. The narrative is easy to follow, though.

Interesting staging, Too long, Relevant, Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if you're interested in African folktales; you get fun, color, music, dance, lights, energy, and talented young actors.

Don't see it if Repetitious, needs 1/2 hr. of edits for a more cohesive play; small story needs more focus.

Also Though the play is made up of African fables most of the story applies... Read more Read less

Quirky, Great choreography, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Ambitious

See it if You like African folk tales presented as a teen story with dance, song, and a terrific cast. Bullying shown in an interesting way.

Don't see it if You cannot sit for 110 minutes, have no interest in jealous, confused teens or the real meaning of beauty. New playwright bumps.

Also Some good ideas in a play that takes a little too long to reach its co... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Dizzying, Intense, Quirky, Slow

See it if Good music that becomes overbearing and too loud. Interesting staging

Don't see it if You have issues with loud music and screaming

Great writing, Dizzying, Profound, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you’re a woman who can deal w/ harsh truths. Dissects the antagonism btwn female liberation & female beauty w/ brutal honesty & ingenuity.

Don't see it if The play is like that brilliant person who’s always cranked up to 11—unfiltered, forceful, but also attention-seeking, overbearing.

Also Sampson makes her mark. In my head, this play is subtitled Every Woman... Read more Read less

Satire, Funny, Refreshing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if society's emphasis on beauty and the power and worship of beautiful people irks you.

Don't see it if you don't like satire


See it if Cautious fable on society's jealousies and crimes in the name of beauty, esp on girls/women. Should be a simple moral but left me confused.

Don't see it if "African" accents confuse you. Black women's issues bore you.

Also Ticket with Young Member discount for $26.50.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Quirky, Dizzying, Ambitious

See it if an African take on the "mean girls" story sounds interesting to you.

Don't see it if you aren't a fan of mean girls of any kind .

Refreshing, Enchanting

See it if You liked School Girls, but wished it were more fantastical/surreal.

Don't see it if You want a clear, moving story. It feels like it has two endings. The accents were hard to understand when the actors were emotional/fast.

Intense, Great acting, Edgy, Absorbing

See it if you believe that we are sometimes judged by our appearance rather than our abilities

Don't see it if you don't want to see a play about objectifying women

Funny, Original, Clever, Entertaining

See it if Fable set in mythical Africa, a tale of beauty and jealousy and apotheosis. Also lots of fun and music.

Don't see it if You like realism, and don't want to hear about teen bullying, you don't like fantasy, or tragedy with your comedy.

Also A very entertaining play by a talented young playwright. t was a bit r... Read more Read less

Resonant, Edgy, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if It is visually captivating with a strong story to tell.

Don't see it if You don't like African themed stories. The speech can be difficult to understand but it is worth trying.

Profound, Edgy, Great acting, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if you want to see a somewhat modified version of Mean Girls taken to the extreme

Don't see it if the topics of bullying or death trigger you

Quirky, Fluffy, Delightful, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if super unique and mostly good

Don't see it if i didn't like all the choices made

Noisy, Unfocused

See it if There is something about this play that pleased many people and left others stumped. An attempt to explore cultural attributes of beauty?

Don't see it if I didn't get it. The delivery of most lines at top volume with great urgency did not make it clearer to me what was message was being sent.

Also Reading other reviews did not make it clearer. Perhaps because I am a ... Read more Read less

Funny, Resonant, Original, Great singing, Delightful

See it if A wonderful staging of a folktale that will appeal to all ages. Speaks to everyone and a special message for teenage girls.

Don't see it if Could use more music and dance, especially in the first half. This play is not for those looking for a big broadway musical.

Great singing, Great acting, Entertaining, Delightful, Clever

See it if You want to experience a thought provoking play written by a contemporary playwright with much to offer in the future. The acting, singing

Don't see it if You dislike contemporary plays and new, emerging playwrights. Why go to the theater when you know you just won’t get it.

Also and choreography is superb. There are many lessons to learn and ponder... Read more Read less

Interesting, Great set, Resonant, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if / to see a modernized African fable; if feminine beauty as determined by society is a subject that interests you

Don't see it if you need an intermission (it's almost 2 hours with none); you have trouble with accents; you like straightforward/linear structure

Needs focus, Excruciating, Confusing

See it if following a new playwright from the beginning intrigues you.

Don't see it if for you there should be some coherence and flow to a story.

Must see, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you like shows that make you think about this world we live in and all the expectations we have.

Don't see it if you have trouble understanding accents and rapid dialogue.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Refreshing, Funny, Clever

See it if Sampson's work is fast, entertaining and applies to all. Yes, there were a few snags, but all in all it was fun and the cast was up to it.

Don't see it if Traditional theater is more to your liking.

Slow, Relevant, Great acting

See it if An African fable using dance and song emphasizing how beauty is perceived by a society.

Don't see it if Could have been a half hour shorter. If you have trouble tuning your ear to accents or are hard of hearing, not the show for you.

March 10th, 2019
"Sampson makes a contemporary fable about the black female body and its discontents. She also makes, in the Playwrights Horizons production that opened on Sunday under the exuberant direction of Leah C. Gardiner, an auspicious professional playwriting debut...Sampson uses a refreshing palette of ...
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March 12th, 2019
"Sampson’s script plays like it’s sledding on a steep hill: You can feel the speed, the writer’s whizzing wit, the swift adjustments in tone and direction. The mixture of folklore-speak and hilarious up-to-the-minute banter is intoxicating...Gardiner’s vivid production is notable for its balance ...
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March 10th, 2019
"There’s a disturbing, powerful play hiding inside Tori Sampson’s 'If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka,' but it hasn’t worked its way out yet...It could all make for a great, and very scary, play. 'If Pretty Hurts' isn’t quite that play, though it feels like an energetic sketch in that direct...
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March 10th, 2019
"A lovable but chaotic piece of theater, one that's simultaneously energizing and vivacious, and also too loose to be fully successful...The story is somewhat predictable, but there's nothing obvious about Simpson's storytelling style. Her voice is really cool and imaginative, creating a play tha...
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