Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Shape of Things"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"The Shape of Things"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

SAMM Entertainment's current show is Neil LaBute's "The Shape of Things". The author makes the point very early in his show that Art is subjective and he uses this to set up the premise about the cruel games a more powerful partner can play with a smitten weaker one. The show is set in current day in a small town during the Spring Semester at Clarkson University. Zany graduate art student, Evelyn meets geeky, overweight English literature major Adam while trying to spray paint genitalia on a sculpture that she doesn't approve of. She seduces him, introducing him to a world of sex and intimacy that he has only dreamt of. Adam changes his image to please her and over a period of time he becomes more popular as others see his desirability. He changes his behavior, diet, clothing lifestyle and even his nose. Adam's conventional roommate, Phillip argues with Evelyn's politics and dislikes the changes in Adam. However, his fiancee, Jenny finds the new Adam attractive which leads them into a sexual encounter. Phillip and Evelyn retaliate with their own fling. Evelyn makes an ultimatum for Adam to give up his friendship with Phillip and Jill or she will leave him. Adam agrees not to see either of them again. The culmination of all these events occurs with Evelyn's master's thesis which she presents to the audience and stuns one and all with it. This scene and the final scene are both shocking and compelling, giving the audience the answers to what they have just witnessed. To reveal the ending will spoil the show for its viewers. Director Corey Jackson does a superb job with his insight into the human spirit, making you decide whether the thesis is truly an art form that you approve of or not. His four member cast rises to the occasion and spins a fascinating tale that will intrigue all night long.

Brett Marks is dynamite as Adam. He makes the transition from nerd to heart throb with ease. Adam follows all of Evelyn's demands until the final one where he becomes the mouse that roars. Brett's sympathetic portrayal is fantastic and when he blows his stack at her bitchy behavior, it becomes a wonderful piece of theater. A recent graduate of Boston College with a BA in Theatre Arts, Brett makes a tremendous debut on the local theater scene with this show. Hopefully this will be the start of something big for him. The conniving, manipulative Evelyn is well played by Samantha Hammel. Underneath the sexual and loving feelings that Evelyn has for Adam, is a cold hearted determination that the audience can't put a finger on until the thesis scene. It is this scene and the next where Samantha's acting as this horrible person makes the audience want to choke her. Her self centered seductress comes through with her contemptible behavior and she plays the role so well that you want to boo her at the end of the night.

Randy Marquis does a great job as Phillip, the unpleasant, bullying roommate who knows everything. His small town mentality runs his life and he is instinctively unhappy about Adam's transformation because it puts him on an equal footing with Phillip in how to be attractive to women. Randy also interacts well in the argument scene with Samantha and the awkward questioning scene with Brett about what happened with Jenny. Sarah Consentino is wonderful as the sympathetic, Jenny who puts up with Phillip's chauvinistic behavior. Her eventual admiration for Adam and sexual attraction to him are handled beautifully as is the angry confrontation scene with Evelyn. Sarah gives the show its humanistic side. Be sure to see "The Shape of Things" for its clever look at the underside to the younger generation's obsession to obtaining beauty at any cost to those around them and how it shapes a person's relationship with their closest friends.

"The Shape of Things" (9 - 17 June)
SAMM ENTERTAINMENT
Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, WATERTOWN MA
1 (617) 923-8487

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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