Review: Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things, at the Arcola theatre

Sean McConaghy as Adam, Anna Bamberger as Evelyn. Photo Maximilien Spielbichler

Sean McConaghy as Adam, Anna Bamberger as Evelyn. Photo Maximilien Spielbichler

It’s a happy coincidence that as Tom Wells’ Jumpers for Goalposts is playing at the Bush Theatre, Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things is playing at the Arcola. Two playwrights with intelligence, artistic integrity and insight but with opposing views, or at least focus, when it comes to the human condition. It’s no spoiler to say that Neil LaBute comes from a darker, more pessimistic place.

The Shape of Things is the story of a brief encounter in a museum that, as these things go, turns into a romantic entanglement. The problem is, not all interested parties approach the relationship the same way. Friendships, self esteem, quotes by Oscar Wilde are under the microscope.

Neil LaBute’s characters want to be good but, overwhelmed by their selfishness, live in a distorted world of neuroses and power play. The mist of myopic self delusion is thick and tangible. Even with LaBute’s acerbic script, the story could have been too nihilistic to care, except the niggling thought some part of it applies to all of us. Continue reading