The Shape of Things (4 stars)

This article is from 2009.

The Shape of Things

A love story with added politics

Neil LaBute’s Closer-like four-hander examines boundaries in art and relationships. Geeky intellectual Adam (Robert Galas, totally believable) meets firebrand Evelyn (Kira Sternbach, captivating); he’s besotted, she convinces him he’s worthy of her, and he flourishes under her attentions until it all goes wrong.

Parallel to this drama is a critique of narrow-minded conservatism and sociopolitical norms, signalled by quotes, Biblical allusions and direct discussion. As the relationship unravels, Evelyn’s radically transgressive acts oppose traditional concepts of love. As a result she is deemed monstrous while a misogynistic, oppressively violent social model is reaffirmed. Jenny (Antonia Kinlay, heartbreaking) and Phillip (Luke Neal, blunt), whose relationship borders on the abusive, are cast as the victims.

Directed by Caroline Jay Ranger, in her safe hands the actors perform their duties in subservience to the script, the stage setting conjures the correct pseudo-arty vibe and the loud musical cues between scenes prohibit reflection as LaBute requested. The Shape of Things is a gripping watch, whether you are looking at it from an emotional or intellectual perspective; it works as an engaging indie romcom, but also shows the inherent conservatism of the genre.

C Venue, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug, 8.05pm, £8.50–£10.50 (£7.50–£9.50).

Shape of Things

  • 4 stars

Tortured by questions of sex, virtue and brutality, Neil LaBute's play explores the depths we reach and the price we pay for love, for art. Killer soundtrack by Slam Cartell and Ella Edmondson.

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