In the ’50s, the Detroit Institute of Arts was doing a clean-up on “The Wedding Dance” created by Pieter Bruegel the Elder around 1566. They discovered an overlay paint covering up the men’s codpieces. Altering art, it seems, goes back decades as well as centuries.
My name is Adam. I’m shy and about 25 pounds overweight. I haven’t had a date in a long time. Then this tall dark-haired woman actually came-on to me. She kissed me! She was sorta weird. She wanted to spray a penis on a statue at the museum where I work. The real statue penis was covered over by a prude’s plaster leaf a few years ago.
Evelyn, that’s her name, helped me too. She suggested I actually style my hair and get rid of my old corduroy jacket and buy some new clothes. She suggested some other things to like losing weight, replace my glasses with contacts, and, finally, choose between her and my two best friends. Well, actually my only friends. She was awesome in bed.
That’s a bit of Adam’s (Michael Grohsman) story. Evelyn (Emily Jonak) was an artist doing her thesis project in Neil LaBute’s revealing The Shape of Things. It is a compelling story of just how much change a man will make when he falls under the spell of a lovely aggressive artist with her own agenda. His best friends are former roommate, Phillip (Jason Godfrey) and Phillip’s fiancee, Jenny (Brenda Foley). At one time Jenny sat beside Adam in a class and did everything possible to get to know him, but his insecurities prevented a relationship.
These four Mercy College students reside in the small northern California college town. Each has their own problems, insecurities, and flaws. Phillip has a temper and is questioning his pending nuptials. Jenny finds that she has very strong feelings for Adam. He has similar feelings while still being in love. They have a private, steamy meeting. Phillip and Evelyn have a similar rendezvous.
Looking Glass Theatre’s The Shape of Things is powerful. Each of the four principals is totally their character from the moment they enter stage right until their final exit stage left. Playwright LaBute’s language requires your close attention. Every word has meaning. Director Geoffrey A. Cox has paid attention to the idiosyncratic behaviorism of each character. However, Grohsman, Jonak, Godfrey, and Foley make it all convincingly happen. Christina Pastoral, Pam Raney, and Carr Cavender, playing many roles each, assisted them.
Sadly, the production itself is flawed. It felt overly long, but wasn’t. The minimalist set comprised black boxes and columns, at least one painting in each scene (a very nice touch), and minor set pieces and props. Yet it took a long time to install each scene and, once installed, an interminable time for the lights to come up on what became a scene-starting tableau. Having written that, I would sit through this cast doing a reading of The Shape of Things. They’re that good. Alas, they had only a two day run.
Mike Grohsman, Emily Jonak, Jason Godfrey, Brenna Foley, Christina Pastoral, Pam Raney, Carr Cavender
Designer Geoffrey A. Cox, Producer/Tech Dir David Spierman, SM Thea GrantSmith, Lighting Les GrantSmith, Sound Kurt Dahlvig
Total Rating: Two and half stars
Author: Neil LaBute
Director: Geoffrey A. Cox
Date Reviewed: November 30, 2007
Dates: Fri & Sat, 7:30 p.m., Nov 30 & Dec 1, 2007
Running Time: 144 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
Caution Guidance: Adult language and situations
Looking Glass Theatre
First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego
4190 Front Street
San Diego, CA 92103