If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka
Closed 1h 50m
If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka

If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka NYC Reviews and Tickets

(95 Reviews)
Members say
Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Relevant, Clever

About the Show

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

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Member Reviews (95)

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507 Reviews | 1867 Followers
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.

677 Reviews | 186 Followers
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. Read more

567 Reviews | 147 Followers
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. Read more

473 Reviews | 714 Followers
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.

501 Reviews | 127 Followers
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. Read more

406 Reviews | 188 Followers
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. Read more

435 Reviews | 61 Followers
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

384 Reviews | 132 Followers
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. Read more

Critic Reviews (22)

The New York Times
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 theatrical colors to fill in the story...Though the inventiveness does not always pay off Gardiner’s well-acted and swift-moving production usually picks up the slack."
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Time Out New York
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 and propulsion. The cast is excellent...The combined effect of the music, the production and Sampson’s play: It's the feeling of being barraged by talent, all of it at full flood."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
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 direction...'If Pretty Hurts' needs to actually hurt, but what we’ve been shown has more often felt whimsical than ferocious...It’s got teeth inside it, but it isn’t biting yet."
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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 that pulsates with contemporary vernacular and old-school theatricality...I wish the piece were just a little tighter so it could fully deliver on its ambitious style of storytelling."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 11th, 2019

“Despite definite signs of talent ‘If Pretty Hurts’ has several problems, not least of which is the playwright's try-anything approach, which results in a jumbled narrative. But what makes it something of a trial is its insistence on lecturing the audience at great length...It's not surprising that the director, Leah C. Gardiner, has difficulty imposing some kind of order on these proceedings, but cast often charms, even with in the thinnest of roles."
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Talkin' Broadway
March 10th, 2019

"There's more high-flown poetry than vulgarism in her writing, along with an odd fusion of storytelling techniques...Do such disparate elements coalesce? Well, no...The storytelling's now-naturalistic, now-metaphorical, now-monologue, now-dialogue, now-pantomime, now-dance; and Sampson's principal concern, the unfairness of beauty standards, is stomped into the ground...There are some good scenes...But all that damn meta keeps getting in the way."
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New York Stage Review
March 10th, 2019

"The play is Sampson’s vibrant 90-minute spin on the time-honored 'black is beautiful' maxim...Bringing 'If Pretty Hurts' to its vibrant life is proficiently handled by director Leah C. Gardiner. She sees that all the actors maximize the possibilities in a story playwright Sampson cleverly tells by placing it in Affreakah-Amirrorikah, a land, not unlike America, where racism can, in the worst circumstances, turn in on itself...See Sampson's moving, pressing fable for, well, for its beauty."
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March 11th, 2019

“Dynamically presented and sensationally performed...A surfeit of extraneous devices and a heavy-handed agenda overwhelm and drag out a tender and potentially resonant tale. There’s repetitive jokiness, a lumbering ghostly gospel sequence and an anti-climactic pretentious finale. Amidst the frustrating tangents are bright spots during a straight through nearly two hours....At the core of “If Pretty Hurts...’ is its enchanting tale that’s been waylaid by authorial excesses.”
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