Directed by Jordan Shea
Kings Cross Hotel
Level 2, 244-248 William Street, Kings Cross
Season: 15 – 19 September
Through the myriad of relationships we have, each one tends to shape and influence us, accumulating to the person we are at the present moment. Jordan Shea’s production of The Shape of Things examines three key relationships in Adam’s life, and prompts the question, at what point do some healthy adjustments of disposition or outward appearance disintegrate into a product of outright manipulation? How does the way we perceive ourselves alter our treatment of those around us? Furthermore, the work explores the morality of art and how subjective truths interplay with the creation of meaning. There is plenty to sink your teeth into in Shea’s work. This comedic, and yet dark and twisted piece will undoubtedly play on your mind long after the actors have taken their bows…
Neil La Bute’s play first introduces us to a boy, the earnest and diffident Adam, meeting a girl, fiery and intelligent Evelyn. Note their names’ allusion to the biblical creation in the Garden of Eden. Instantly smitten with Evelyn yet meekly inexperienced with girls, Adam asks Evelyn for her number, and she proceeds to transform his world. Starting with small tweaks to his appearance, eventually Adam’s behaviour and attitudes change, all in the name of ‘love’.
Tina Jackson’s performance as Evelyn gifted the audience with a fascinating character study and afforded the overall performance with a strong backbone. The believability of Evelyn’s actions and motivations is crucial to the play’s plot, and supplied ample intrigue to draw the audience into its workings. Jackson displayed a focus and tenacity in the role and convinced the audience of her conviction in artistic integrity. She interacted effectively with the other actors, always serving to elevate the tension in a scene, be that through unfolding sexual tension or a bitter personality conflict. Luke Holmes complements Jackson’s performance in the role of Adam. As Adam, Holmes is initially endearing and encumbered with securities. However, throughout his time with Evelyn, Holmes effectively displays Adam’s growth and transformation. At points during his performance, convincing motivation underlying his dialogue was not evident, and perhaps a slowed pace would assist the development of Adam’s thoughts. Claudia Coy gives a charming performance as Jenny, capitalising on the comic opportunities in the role, as well as exploring the doubts Jenny harbours in her relationships, as well as internally. A memorable scene from the play unfolded as tensions escalated between Evelyn and Jenny at a cafe, their polarised personalities meeting at a dramatic intersection that held the audience’s focus and garnered audible responses. This scene is a testament to the theatrical capabilities of Jackson and Coy, under Shea’s directorial hand. James Manera portrayed Phil, and contributed favourably to the comedic aspects of the play. In some of the more dramatic points of the work Manera lacked sufficient control of his emotions in order to engage the audience in the believability of the role.
In this post-modern era we inhabit, we’ve become more accustomed to recognising and engaging with the subjectivities that inundate our being. What one perceives to be true could be considered ‘truth’ for this person, whilst another person’s perception may constitute his or her own inimical ‘truth’. Art is the perfect expression of these subjectivities, in its creation, experience and interpretation. There is no roadmap to navigate the moral and ethical issues bound in this grossly subjective world, and The Shape of Things does not claim to be one. What the work does do, however, is offer some insight as one endeavours to navigate the path.
The Shape of Things is a truly compelling work that offers observations of our society at large, our approach to art and its accompanying subjectivities, as well as observations of a personal nature that will speak to each spectator. This is a case study of external form affecting substance, how this process modifies relationships and the questions that arise in the course of proceedings. Shea’s The Shape of Things entices the audience into the action and through a subversive reveal achieves genuine surprise. Before I give anything away, you’ll have to see the show for yourself…