The Shape of Things

Neil LaBute has a shrewd ear for American talk but doesn't know when to stop

Every now and then the Aurora Theatre puts on a play that seems young and harsh (compared to its sumptuous productions of Shaw) and features Danny Wolohan. Tough! was like that — a show about teenagers in a needle-littered park, with Wolohan as a put-upon guy who got somebody pregnant. The Shape of Things is about two young couples, with Wolohan as the conventional, beer-drinking friend of a more sensitive, nerdish undergrad (“Adam”) who falls for an art student (“Evelyn”). “What'd she do,” Wolohan's character asks after Evelyn irritates him, “give you a haircut and a blow job and now you're her puppy?” The answer to that question is a great big “Yes.” Evelyn has made Adam her pet project, and the story turns on Pygmalion's ancient theme of transformation, of shaping an object of desire into something ideal. Neil LaBute has written his play with a shrewd ear for American talk but a dull sense of when he's made his point. Still, the four actors do beautiful work under Tom Ross' direction. Wolohan is an edgy, threatening bully as Philip; Stephanie Gularte is erotically conniving as Evelyn; Arwyn Anderson is sweet and Midwestern as Jenny (Philip's fiancee); and Craig Marker holds the whole show together as Adam, moving from a hesitant, sheepish museum guard to a lost but generically attractive “hot guy,” in contact lenses and Tommy Hilfiger.

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