Review: The Shape of Things at the Abbey Theatre, St Albans
- Credit: Archant
THE Company of Ten has been having a fine season and the exemplary run continues with the current thought-provoking and engrossing production in the Abbey Theatre Studio.
Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things is a challenging play and is well suited to the intimacy of the Studio and a sparse set.
Part comedy, part romance, it is not a light and frothy concoction at all but a play which challenges a lot of conceptions and asks a lot of questions.
Beautiful art student Evelyn appears to fall for the nerdy Adam but as she sets about changing him, question marks start to emerge about her motives.
It is wholly absorbing and the audience in the Studio on Saturday night were clearly completely wrapped up in it.
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In his programme notes, director Philip Reardon says one of the joys of directing is uncovering the subtext of a play, the nuances of the characters and the advancements that they undertake.
And he is certainly true to his words in The Shape of Things, helped by four excellent performances and some clever touches which, with the benefit of hindsight, point towards what is to come.
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Lucy Crick’s Evelyn steals every scene she is in. As the glamorous, confident art student she is a total revelation. Having seen her in a number of roles on the local stage, there is no doubting this is her best one yet.
Her clever manipulation of Jason Thorn’s gauche English student Adam is a real work of art and when her true colours are revealed, it is as powerful a piece of theatre as anything I have seen on the St Albans stage.
Jason is perfectly cast as Adam, who changes physically throughout the play but never loses the loveable puppy side which makes the audience believe that Evelyn might really have fallen in love with him.
Rob Ferguson as Adam’s manipulative friend Phillip and Stephanie Jones as his long-suffering fiancée Jenny who is no match for Evelyn are equally impressive and the quartet richly deserved the volume of applause they received.
The Company of Ten often put on their most challenging productions in the Studio and anyone who likes something a bit outside the mainstream should keep an eye on what the drama group puts on there – if The Shape of Things is anything to go by, you won’t regret it.
The production runs until Saturday and tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk