'The Shape of Things' tells quirky love story
Boy meets girl at the museum he works at after she hops over a rope she really shouldn’t have, girl threatens to spray paint a censored sculpture of God with male genitalia (and does once he leaves), then boy and girl fall in love. Or something like that.
Under the direction of Krystina Matos, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, Cabaret Theatre’s production of Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things” made its debut on Thursday night. In an intimate black box theatre, a meditative preshow begins with actors sprawled in a sleep-like state on the white-tiled floor of the set, serene music and dim lighting inclusive. It sort of soothes you into the play and invites you to envision what you’d like: frolicking cows, a Scottish landscape, a good nap, whatever.
Then, the play begins on the mostly-white set save for rope barriers, small, movable white columns and lightly speckled tiles on the floor that’ll remind you of high school. A seeming blend of vanilla themes, LaBute’s play follows a typical course. A certified literary dweeb, Adam, falls for a turbulent, Oscar Wilde-quoting, manic pixie dream girl MFA art student, Evelyn. The two date and she grinds him into a sort of Adam 2.0, a glittery diamond à la Mia in “The Princess Diaries,” classic.
As Evelyn, Loretta Adams, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, stamped an unremovable first impression into the audience’s mind as the play began, clad with both her large cheetah-print coat and rebellious-cool demeanor. She is artsy, enchanting and a bit abrasive. Peter Toto, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, captures Adam well — in all the timid, uncomfortable energy you’d expect. Even as he blossoms from bespeckled geek to god, sheds 20 pounds and wraps himself up with Tommy Hilfiger clothes, contacts and newfound confidence, he retains some bits of himself.
This means Adam’s prose is just as peppered with literary references in the beginning of the play as it is toward the end, and he’s still friendly and modest. He’s just so in love, that’s all. Though he does make a pass at his a longtime crush, sickly-sweet Jenny, played by Megan Lako, a Mason Gross School of the Arts junior, after his girlfriend Evelyn molds him into a cutie. This happens while Jenny is engaged to Adam’s best friend, equally sweet and sour Philip, played by Matthew Volpe, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
The play shapes up to be so much more than transformations and relationship troubles. After all, LaBute, the American playwright, is quite the provocateur. He once said, “It’s part of my makeup to ruin a perfectly good day for people.” He, unshockingly, did that. What began as a vanilla play was rounded out with a good old unnerving ending, but no spoilers.
The play, which closes this Sunday, is successfully underway, and it surely does seem that things are shaping up just as well as always at Cabaret Theatre.