The Shape of Things tells the story of four young students at the fictional mid-west College of Mercy. Adam (Greg Shewring) is a corduroy-wearing, tape-around-the-nose-of-his-glasses college student, majoring in English Literature. He develops an obsession for a femme fatale art graduate named Evelyn (Jade Berks) after meeting her at the museum where he is working part time. Evelyn gradually transforms Adam from the original “geek” to an attractive, sexy young man.
He falls desperately in love with her – a love which appears reciprocated throughout the play, and he gains more self confidence as the scenes progress. Along the way however Evelyn shows herself to be manipulative and persuasive. For example she persuades him to drop his best friends - Jenny (Alice Sparey) and Phillip (Charlie Field) and even persuades him to have plastic surgery – against his better judgment, all supposedly for love.
However all is not as it seems and the play draws to a perhaps surprising and dark conclusion – I won’t spoil it by telling you what happens.
All four of the performers are excellent but Jade Berks and Greg Shewring are outstanding. Throughout, the characters are completely believable, and you find yourself caught up in their lives.
The play is directed by Emma Earle, who is to be congratulated on the production. A witty and fast moving play, which poses several questions. The audience’s attention is held throughout.
The set is simple but outstanding. Designed by Julia Marshall-Wessendorf, the concept in her own words was developed from the idea of transformation – firstly Adam’s transformation throughout the play and secondly through the challenge of having ten very different scenes that required various aspects. This is done with white furniture that can be transformed from wall sculptures to chairs, sofas tables and even a bed with the minimum of fuss. I must say a word about the stage crew who execute the scene changes in full view of the audience efficiently and with the minimum of fuss – well done.
Neil LaBute’s play highlights the question of what is art – particularly with reference to the contemporary art scene where sometimes it appears that the most mundane everyday articles can now be classed as art. I left the theatre pondering on several questions – not just what is art but how far is it morally right to use people in the name of art. That is something you will have to decide for yourself. Go and see the play and see what conclusions you come to.