“The Shape of Things” is a play written by Neil Labute that was recently performed in Bozeman’s Verge Theater (located on 7th Ave., by Murdoch’s). The play is about the character Evelyn’s, which at first seems to be something like defacing historical art in a museum’s art gallery. She’s about to spray paint a phallus onto a human sculpture to make it look more “true” when Adam, one of the museum’s employees, catches her stepping over the rope that separates spectators from the art pieces. After asking her not to go through with the act, they both converse on the meaning of art and what distinguishes true art from other art and Evelyn’s examination of Adam leads her to spray paint her phone number on the jacket he’s wearing.
All of this leads Adam to fall in love with Evelyn and after she changes his appearance by convincing him to stop biting his nails, lose weight, wear contacts, change his clothes and even be surgically altered for her; he proposes marriage. This is revealed to the audience near the end of the play and is staged during Evelyn’s presentation and display of her thesis project that turns out to be Adam’s transformation. Her thesis, we eventually learn, is the crafting of a human being through the means of cunning, manipulation and allure. Surprisingly, she turns down Adam for the sake of his own future as well as the sake of her professionalism. I say surprisingly because despite her vindictive and evil ways through her lack of being upfront with Adam to begin with, she actually does care about him as a person and gives him the freedom to return the person he actually is.
This night had many firsts for me. It was my first time at the Verge Theater, my first time hearing about or seeing this play and my first time truly appreciating a play for its storyline. The last observation could have been due to many things including costume, blocking, lighting or props but I think what sold it was the talent of the actors I witnessed. The main two actors who played Adam (Ryan Lawrence Flynn) and Evelyn (Katherine Mozzone) embodied and developed their characters’ personalities perfectly all the way down to their body language. For example the Evelyn character took a lot of assertive and more “masculine” stances on stage and Adam was more self-conscious and fidgety in his movements. The stage was very small but the actors made great use of what they were given and, adding to the effect of the storyline, even took seats with the audience to create a more realistic speech-like approach for Evelyn’s presentation.
I loved this story. In a comedic delivery there were many moments of lighthearted dialogue which carried the story and allowed to remain interesting and entertaining. With a culminating twist at the end, we learn that Evelyn took clay, in human form, and molded it into exactly what she wanted by psychological manipulation. I believe I benefitted from not expecting anything from this performance and was delightfully surprised as the play concluded, which I believe is to the credit of the actors’ talent. “The Shape of Things” played at the Verge Theater in February and was excellent show of local theater and the reasons why you should support it. Up next on the Verge Theater’s playlist is “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” starting March 21.