The power of love

When a nerdy college student named Adam meets a sexy sculptor named Evelyn, he’s instantly smitten.

Adam

Adam

When a nerdy college student named Adam meets a sexy sculptor named Evelyn, he’s instantly smitten.

The gorgeous artist seems out of his league, yet, to Adam’s amazement, she agrees to go out with him after they meet in a gallery.

Through the course of their lopsided romance, the dynamic Evelyn manages to transform Adam into someone as hip and stylish as she is.

The changes to his dress, weight and grooming enhance Adam’s desirability and confidence, but at the same time, make his old friends wonder about the sudden differences they see in his personality.

Neil LaBute’s play, The Shape of Things, which is being staged by Ignition Theatre starting on Thursday at The Matchbox, often veers into dangerous, seductive territory. The imbalance in the couple’s relationship will be unsettling to anyone who’s ever dated a controlling, unpredictable person.

Evelyn appears to have all the power — until Adam attempts to take some back.

The plot culminates in a rather devastating twist that shocked Ignition Theatre’s artistic director Matt Grue when he first read the script.

“I couldn’t believe I could be taken in like that!” said Grue, who believes audience members will be similarly shocked — and angered. “They will feel they’ve been duped.”

LaBute’s comic drama is a “remarkable” piece of theatre, said Grue.

Not only is the play wittily written, it also contains LaBute’s sharp insights into the superficial judgments and insecurities that underlie modern-day relationships.

The Shape of Things asks the questions: Is changing yourself for somebody else a matter of compromise or capitulation? How far should someone go for love? And what price is worth paying to hold on to a lover?

Grue believes the play, with its aptly named characters, is a retelling of the fall of man.

Ignition Theatre is staging The Shape of Things because the script provokes debate, he added — and not only about relationships. It also questions “what is art?” at a time when the word is liberally applied to everything from cloth draped forests to the act of launching a cow with a catapult.

The unresolved ending is guaranteed to leave audience members talking about Adam and Evelyn all the way to the exit, predicted Grue, who describes the play as “exciting, provocative, challenging and entertaining as hell.”

It’s been a while since Ignition Theatre tread this deeply into intellectual territory and Grue is glad to be back.

His four-person cast is made up entirely of Red Deer College Theatre Studies graduates: Erin Odell as Evelyn, Paul Sutherland as Adam, as well as Kate Macandrew Adams and Christopher Schulz as Adam’s friends.

Grue designed the stark set to be reminiscent of an art installation. It will include onstage seating for a limited number of audience members.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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