What becomes of the broken arted?
They are cast from paradise according to Neil La Bute’s The Shape of Things.
Adam meets Evelyn in an art gallery where he’s employed as a guard. She gets under his guard and paints a graffiti genitalia on a painting depicting God. The Creator, apparently, can’t have a cock, even though we are told man was made in his image.
The idea of making someone in your image is the crux of The Shape of Things, a perverse and provocative take on the Pygmalion myth.
Instead of offering him an apple, Evelyn pops Adam’s cherry and embarks on an art project to change his world. Her seduction subverts notions of love, romance, or eros into total subordination and subjugation.
Starting with subtle coaxing, the manipulative artist begins Adam’s metamorphosis with micro make-overs, hair cut, clothes, diet. The shaping takes on a sharper and more shocking turn when Eve suggests cosmetic surgery. By now, she’s literally leading him by the nose.
Complete control comes with her ultimatum of cutting himself off from his friends.
The Shape of Things challenges audiences to think about identity and art, of how life experience shape our being and how we receive art, what creates our sense of self, the difference between influence and manipulation.
This production stars Samson Alston as Adam whose performance is quite striking and layered as the dork shaped into an Adonis. His depth of playing shows up the shallowness of the transformation, a transition that is all surface. His branch of the arts, literature keeps informing him of his predicament, citing Kafka, Wilde and Dickens among others.
As Evelyn, Georgia Brindley is all Mean Girls posturing, certainly nailing the narcissistic side of the artistic temperament.
Tayman Jamae is suitably jockish as Adam’s old college room mate, Phillip, and Olivia Hall Smith lightens the darkness as the sweet Jenny, who has an unrequited passion for Adam but now doggedly affianced to Phillip.
Loosing the otherwise firm reins of stage craft with some clunky scene changes that could have been harnessed by the cast, further encumbered by the insertion of an interruptive interval, Les Solomon and his co-director, Rachel Marley, sit tall in the saddle with the bit firmly between the dramatic teeth of the play.
Lambert House Enterprises presents
The Shape of Things
by Neil LaBute
Director Les Solomon
Venue: Flight Path Theatre | 142 Addison Rd Marrickville NSW
Dates: Jan 8 to 31, 2021
Tickets: $45 – $35