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Kate WestThe Shape of Things
a kate west review
written by neil labute, directed by dámasco rodriguez
at the Balcony Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave. South Pasadena
contact the Furious Theatre Company (www.furioustheatre.org) or call (626) 356-PLAY
running January 21 - February 20, 2005




Playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute brings his trendy cynicism to Los Angeles audiences once again in "The Shape of Things," now playing at the Balcony Theatre in Pasadena.

Four college students meet and are immediately entwined in dramatic relationship scenarios that play out in very unexpected ways. Of the four actors, Vonessa Martin, Brad Price, Sara Hennessy and Shawn Lee (all co-founders of the Furious Theatre Company), the men are much stronger than the women. Vonessa Martin as Evelyn, the co-ed who seduces Adam (Brad Price), is rather stiff and mannered, unfortunately. Shawn Lee, as Phillip, Adam's best friend, is the most engaging and dynamic, casually tossing out lines designed to skewer, yet amuse. Neil LaBute's dialogue is an acquired taste in the first place, as it is unrealistically stylized at times and only works with an actor's strong delivery.

The story is that Evelyn (Vonessa Martin) and Adam (Brad Price) meet and apparently fall in love. Phillip (Shawn Lee) and Jenny (Sara Hennessy) also meet and fall in love and the four of them parallel each other as they complicate each other's lives. Misunderstandings and innuendoes ensue and in spite of the best of intentions, each friend becomes increasingly disheartened, duplicitous and cruel. All four characters grow up meanwhile, especially Adam, who goes from an awkward nail-biting wallflower to a confident, stylish, wiser man.

The unexpected conclusion is rather harsh and incredulous. To LaBute's credit, we don't see this one coming, however, it may leave you cold. Dámasco Rodriguez's directing is fine, the transitions smooth and actually entertaining, but the overall story is rather bleak. Also, scenic Designer Melissa Teoh built a nice, white set, which converts seamlessly into various scenes (coffee shop, museum, apartment, etc.). Still, although the play is short, with no intermission, the final act is a bit tedious and overly written. If you enjoy this type of cold introspection, give it a try, but remember this is not a play for romantic hopefuls.


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