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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: The Shape of Things

The cast of The Shape of Things
(l-r Michael Daniel Murphy, Sandra Lee, Yanik Ethier-Phillip, Josyln Rogers)

The Play's Not the Thing
Labute's The Shape of Things may add you to his detractors
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

The main problem is the play....among many problems.

Fact is, xposed—now staging Neil Labute's The Shape of Things at 4001 Berri—did not have a good opening night. It seemed that many of their "friends" were pissed drunk or just noisy or maybe they're fucktards all the time. But with the banging of doors and dropping of drinks which accompanied the first and most delicate scene of the play, the evening was not off to a roaring start. 

The play was under-rehearsed, for another thing, and rhythms were aimless for most of the first half. Too, the second half was not helped by the intermission (which saw audience and at least one critic flee)—the pace which was just starting to build was broken and took 15 minutes of part two to recover. 

...another Labute dissection of sociopathy, so fascinating in his films In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors, but here so flacid.

But the main problem, as I said, was the play. This is—perhaps!—a decent 45 minute work that has been larded out to two hours with scenes which I'm sure Labute thinks are revelatory but which are simply hack writing of the first order—another Labute dissection of sociopathy, so fascinating in his films In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors but here so flacid. Worse, the crowning moment of the play—the reveal—is so theatrically sophomoric you understand it is the point—the only point—of the whole evening: a little pontification by Labute about things he clearly does not understand. Screw character development, screw plot, screw snappy scripting just blah-blah-blah-blah and TA-DA!!!!!

The actors, all young and none with vast experience, simply could not conquer the fundamental flaws of the work. The director, Mikaela Davies, making her debut, cannot be blamed for the static (read: immobile) scenes because short of the actors wandering as aimlessly as the dialogue, there is nothing she could do. 

Except have chosen another play. Even another play by Labute (Bash: Latter-Day Plays might be interesting as it is the one that got Labute disfellowshipped from the Mormons).

And xposed might have a talk with their "friends" about staying away from their next opening.

To March 20, 438-879-8179 or by email.
Running time: 2h15

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