Playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things, ” currently on stage at Circle Theatre, with its catalogue of modes of human deception and cruelty, aims to show the consequences of a culture in which the most available guide to living is a magazine called Self. The play concerns the gradual transformation of the nebbishy student Adam (Joshua Rollins) under the tutelage of the performance artist Evelyn (Andrea Mustain), a transformation that puts acute strains upon Adam’s relationship with friends Philip (Zach Welsheimer) and Jenny (Kyla Brundage). Circle’s cast succeeds wonderfully at portraying the various strategies that each character adopts to keep the world of others at bay and under control. Kristin Gehring’s direction makes effective use of Circle’s intimate space, particularly in a closing scene that erases the boundary between cast and audience. Though LaBute occasionally lapses into overly heavy-handed symbolism, “The Shape of Things” actually underplays its diagnosis of contemporary nihilism, even as his evident sympathy for his lost characters belies charges of simple misanthropy or misogyny. “The Shape of Things” effectively continues a series, begun with his films “In the Company of Men” and “Your Friends and Neighbors,” which might collectively be called “Inferno.” (John Beer)
This production is now closed.