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The Shape of Things


By Bonnie Goldberg
For Middletown Press

If you've ever heard of the television reality show "Extreme Makeover," you know that houses,
cars and even people have been successfully refashioned into sleeker, more beautiful, more useful
models. All this is done, as a happy surprise for the recipient or with full knowledge and
participation by the person involved. What if the makeover were simply an experiment, in the name
of art, that was done to satisfy a grade or a course commitment?
Neil LeBute's intriguing premise is being played out in "The Shape of "Things," skillfully directed
by Douglas Moser, on the intimate stage of Stamford Theatre Works until Sunday, March 30.
Pepper Binkley is wonderfully manipulative as Evelyn Ann Thompson, the art student, who
latches on to a naive and dorky museum guard Adam, played convincingly by Ari Butler, and
determines to make him the subject of her graduate thesis. Like a Svengali with evil intentions, or
a Professor Henry Higgins with desires to improve Eliza's status, or a master puppeteer who
wants consummate control, Evelyn, whose name is so close to Eve, takes her Adam on a journey
through her mythical Garden of Eden.
Flattering him by her attention, Adam responds almost hypnotically to Evelyn's suggestions.
Soon he has replaced his glasses for contacts, adopted a healthier diet, lost more than twenty
pounds, started jogging and even undergone cosmetic surgery, all for the new love of his life. Even
when coerced into abandoning his two best friends Jenny (Tess Brown) and Phil (Will Poston),
Adam does not rebel against his masterful mistress. The psychological manipulation culminates
when Evelyn reveals her new and improved piece of art to the world. How the transformation
occurs provides a thought provoking evening of theater.
For tickets ($25-43), call Stamford Theatre Works, 200 Strawberry Hill Avenue, Stamford (exit 35
off the Merritt) at 203-359-4414, or online at ; The theater is on the
campus of Sacred Heart Academy. Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees
Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Deception and seduction are on the curriculum when Evelyn plots her moves to capture the king.