Twenty-Something Theatre

The Shape of Things
By Neil Labute Produced and Directed by Sabrina Evertt

Dates 24 August - 1 September 2007, 8pm Venue Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island

Reviewer Erin Jane

Running into two of the young actors from The Shape Of Things at the grocery store the day after I saw the play was a thrill for me, and was also what made me realize how much I’d enjoyed this play -- I felt mildly nervous and nearly star struck in the presence of Julie McIssac and Jon Lachlan Stewart. As I awkwardly grabbed some soymilk out of the refrigerator section, Julie asked me how I liked the play. “I really liked it,” I said with a blush.

In reality, as competent as the four actors in Twenty-Something’s production of The Shape Of Things are, I think most of the credit should be given to the dynamic play they had to work with. Fast-paced, witty dialogue and a couple of twists at the end are what make Neil Labute’s play easy to enjoy. And, for a nice change of pace, the success of the play was actually not reliant on the rather dark twist at the end, and without it the play would still be, I believe, an interesting observation on modern relationships.

Thought-provoking themes and a few dark and delusional characters combine in this edgy performance to really make you feel uncomfortable (in a good way). It’s often hard with live theatre to suspend your disbelief and really lose yourself in a performance. But the deliberately awkward and confrontational scenes of The Shape Of Things really do their job effectively as I tried to understand and empathize with the characters.

And yet, don’t expect any character development in this play. Although Adam (played by Joel Sturrock) undergoes a complete transformation, it’s purely aesthetic, and I was not left with the impression that the sequence of events at the end of the story would have changed him into less of a weak-minded pushover.

Jenny and Phillip (played by Lisa Aasebo and Jon Lachlan Stewart) are valuable supporting roles and are a great additions to the intensity of a few particularly heated scenes. Evelyn (Julie McIsaac) stands firm in her cynicism of the hypocrisy of society even in the last confrontational scene, which was performed quite tenderly and outstandingly well by both Sturrock and McIsaac. McIsaac does an effective job of portraying the dark side of art, as she quotes rather aptly, “in all art nothing is universally true.”

If you have an open night sometime between now and 1 September, meander your way to Granville Island and see Twenty-Something Theatre’s production of The Shape Of Things. It may make you appreciate your significant other for who they are more than you ever did before.

© 2007 Erin Jane