The Shape of Things

"The Shape of Things," by Neil LaBute, at Stamford Theatre Works

By Tom Nissley
for the Ridgelea Reports

Neil LaBute is a film artist (writer and director) who has used gender divisions and
romance to create controversial stories with a zing, or twist. "In the company of men"
told about two corporate executive types, hurt by their ladies, who decide to get even
with women by seducing a gullible assistant and then dumping her with glee. The glee
becomes complicated when one of them has real feelings for her. "Possession" had two
literary detectives finding themselves in a parallel relationship to the one they were
sleuthing from the past.

In "The Shape of Things," the playwright has a young rebel female, working on an art
project, pick up a young nerdy student and romance him, opening him up to a new found
self-confidence, but making him seem unreal to two best friends who knew him before.
They try to pull him out of Evelyn's control, but Adam seems happy with his new image,
and is clearly smitten with her interest in him. A nasty unveiling of the project sends the
audience away with a bitter taste, and leaves unanswered questions about cruelty and

The play is either a vicious spoof or a very sophisticated look at how things are. I had
trouble dissociating from the conversation among the 'steel magnolias' about how a man
needs training, while I thought about the play. I certainly encourage you to see it before
the Stamford production ends its run on March 30.

Ari Butler (Adam), Pepper Binkley (Evelyn), Tess Brown (Jenny), and Will Poston
(Phillip) have been honed to a delicious standard by Douglas Moser, the director, and
you will applaud their skills separately and together. Poston is as calm and casual as
Butler is compulsive. Tess Brown is natural and comfortable in her role. Pepper Binkley
gives a hard-edged performance that demands full attention. You'll see what I mean.

The set is imaginative and the lighting creative. You may be disturbed, but you will not be
disappointed by this play, and you may go home wondering just how much this 'shape of
things' is like the 'shape of things' that surround you. Or 203-359-4414 for tickets.

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