Theatre Review - The Shape Of Things

In a relationship, how much should you change yourself for someone else? This is the knotty question at the heart of Neil LaBute’s acclaimed 2001 play The Shape of Things in a smart, entertaining revival at Park200.


Adam (Luke Newton), a nerdy lit student, works part-time in an art gallery to pay his way through college. His life changes when he meets Evelyn (Amber Anderson), a confident post-grad art student, who is about deface a statue on his watch.


Adam is overjoyed and eager to please when they start dating. Evelyn encourages him to change his appearance, going so far as to book him in for a nose job. Adam begins to work out, eat healthily and wear contact lenses. He even restyles his hair and invests in a new wardrobe. As he becomes more dapper, his inner self-assurance grows.


But Evelyn is increasingly controlling, insisting on videoing them in the bedroom and dismissing Adam’s obnoxious college friend, Philip (Majid Mehdizadeh-Valoujerdy) and fiancé Jenny (Carla Harrison-Hodge) as shallow. Adam once had a crush on Jenny but was too shy to ask her out. Now they share a passionate kiss which Evelyn learns about and presses to her advantage.


Eventually, we discover why Evelyn has been remoulding Adam (turning the Biblical reference on its head) and watch in disbelief as she abruptly (and publicly) expels him from the Garden of Eden in which he had briefly found himself.  


This delicious twist moves LaBute’s dark comedy into different territory.


The performances are pitch-perfect. Anderson plays Evelyn as audacious and smug while Newton ensures Adam is gullible and narcissistic enough to repel some of our sympathy.  


Peter Butler’s versatile set and a terrific 1990s soundtrack neatly evoke the period. Nicky Allpress’s fast flowing production is enthralling.


Warmly recommended.

To July 1

Originally published by Islington Tribune