The Shape of Things ★★★★★ Park Theatre | May 24 - Jul 1, 2023

Who hasn't thought of giving their partner a makeover? When geeky English Lit. student, Adam, meets the intense MFA candidate, Evelyn, he gets more than he bargained for. Evelyn is direct, disconcerting and determined, and Adam becomes clay in her hands. Neil LaBute's comedy is cleverly amusing, but always darkly ominous. In the end, it proves to be both emotionally and intellectually taxing, raising questions about the manipulative power of love and of art. The issues posed are manifold, but it is to LaBute's credit that they come out of the characters and do not feel imposed on the play or the audience. The people and situations ring uncomfortably true and are only heightened by LaBute's sharp, articulate dialogue. Luke Newton is completely credible as the malleable Adam who undertakes a transformation that has equivocal consequences. Newton gives a nicely understated performance that skilfully complements Amber Anderson's intimidating Evelyn. The latter is utterly compelling as the terrifyingly truthful Pygmalion to Adam's Galatea. As the foils to this pair, Majid Mehdizadeh-Valoujerdy as Phillip and Carla Harrison-Hodge as Jenny are convincingly aggressive and suitably self-effacing. Their mixed reactions to the formidable Evelyn serve to mirror the audience's ambivalence. Nicky Allpress' direction does justice to LaBute's provocative work, and this is a fine production that might change your ideas about many matters. Theatregoers should definitely put this one their list.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Douet.

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