Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Which Trai Reviews 'The Shape of Things: A Play'

Holy late review, Batman! Argh. I started writing this one on Monday but kept getting so unbelievably sidetracked. Here it is, nearly a week late.

The Book: The Shape of Things

The Author: Neil Labute

How I Found It: Seeing a clip of the movie in my theater class reminded me I was interested in this one. I read one of the other plays in the "trilogy", reasons to be pretty, in November; clicking on the drama tag will bring you to my review.

The Review: Adam Sorenson meets Evelyn in a museum. (Yes, you read their names right.) She is staring down a statue with a can of spray paint in her hand, ready to paint genitalia over a statue's modesty plaster. She believes the art isn't "true", since a town council voted to cover up the family jewels when they were deemed too lifelike. Adam, a guard at the museum, is attempting to stop her when instead he is drawn into her web, entranced by her. Before he knows it, he has asked Evelyn out and she is spraying her number into his coat.

When we next see Adam and Evelyn, they have been going out for a few weeks and they are meeting Adam's friends for dinner. Adam has started to do little things, such as lose some weight and keep a journal of his progress, at Evelyn's suggestion. His friends, Philip and Jenny, an engaged couple, notice the slight changes. Jenny in particular is pleasantly surprised-- Adam missed his chance with her a while back, and before long it becomes apparent that both of them regret that. As Evelyn and Adam's relationship builds, Adam's relationship with Philip and Jenny begins to gradually fall apart.

I have to say, I did like this better than reasons to be pretty; the subject matter is more interesting and this one made me think more about the overall impact of the play. As you could probably guess from the names, it's a modern day retelling of the fall of Man. I'm not a religious person, but I found this treatment of the story really interesting.

I have to give major props to whoever has to play Evelyn in a production. That has to be a very, very difficult role. Having seen the first ten or fifteen minutes of the movie, I definitely want to see the rest; I know Rachel Weisz is more than capable. Evelyn is the most interesting character and definitely the one who has to be played right for the production to work, I'd say. And geez, is she a powerhouse. The overall effect of the play is really chilling.

I can't say all that much about the play without giving away the ending, which is the point of it all. But it did get me thinking. The subject matter and resolution made it a more uncomfortable read than reasons to be pretty, so this is probably why it had more staying power in my mind. Labute has a really good eye for the obsession with beauty; I'm probably going to check out the last play in the trilogy, Fat Pig, within the next few weeks.

Overall, I feel as though his plays might become somewhat repetitive in the long run, since he tends to explore the same themes (the dynamic between men and women, obsession with beauty, etc.), but I do enjoy his style for now and think he has an interesting take on things. I'm still intrigued by his body of work and after all probably just paid him a royalty last night, when I bought one of my favorite movies (directed and partially written/adapted by him), Possession, on DVD. Heck, he might even get another royalty from me if I go to see the Death at a Funeral remake. So yep, Neil Labute is earning a living off of me, so I guess you could say he must be a pretty good author. :)

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