Views & Reviews Review of the week

Keeping up appearances

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 04 October 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:726
  1. Richard Hurley, technical editor, BMJ
  1. rhurley{at}

What will cosmetic surgery mean to humanity if we all end up trying to look the same? Richard Hurley is impressed by a prophetic play that explores this nightmarish idea

“You can't sell anything with that face.” Lette's sudden awareness of his own unattractiveness is how this short play begins. The Ugly One is sharp, simply written, and surreally funny while superficially undemanding. It raises fundamental questions about what happens to self image and wider identity when facial appearance can be changed at will.

Lette assumes he is to give a sales presentation on the connector that he has invented and patented. But Scheffler, his boss at the electronic components factory, forbids him on the grounds of his looks. Instead Scheffler wants to send the better looking junior, Karlmann.

“You're a very beautiful human being,” Lette's wife, Fanny, consoles him. She's learnt to overcome her initial repugnance at looking at his face …

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