REVIEW: Neil LaBute’s THE SHAPE OF THINGS – Lambert House Enterprises

3 months ago
Declan Dowling

“…One of the best scripts to come out of the United States since The Crucible.”

– TMA Theatre Archive

A mighty statement to encounter about a text I knew very little about before walking into the auditorium of the newly refurbished Flight Path Theatre in Marrickville. A mighty statement which really undervalues about 48 years of American Theatre, and places a rather self indulgent play, which constantly shouts at the audience “Look at me! I’m an intellectual!”, next to none other than THE CRUCIBLE. Needless to say I would not have worded that statement quite that way, more along the lines of;

”…one of the scripts to come out of the United States since The Crucible”.

The glimmers of greatness which so catch our eye in LaBute’s text and its themes are borrowed from greater works such as Shaw’s Pygmalion, Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray & Goethe’s Faust, repackaged unapologetically by LaBute and served to us with a twist of Romantic Comedy and Psychopathy. That is not to say LaBute lacks originality, or that ‘The Shape of Things’ bores us with its familiarity, its just to say this isn’t the kind of thing we haven’t seen before – The Shape of Things doesn’t challenge us or give us anything new to comprehend as one might hope for in a text with such high praise behind it.

L to R: Olivia Hall Smith, Tayman Jamae, Georgia Brindley and Sampson Alston
Image: David Hooley

This latest offering from Lambert House Enterprises directed by Les Solomon and assisted by Rachel Marley doesn’t seem to play on any particularly sophisticated directorial techniques or examinations beyond a little choreography and some charming minimalist aesthetic design, but you wouldn’t want it to have much more than that. Solomon and Marley’s vision compliments LaButes text to a tea, and allows their main platform, their actors, to flourish in a remarkably comfortable environment which allowed them to integrate beautifully into their roles and lifted them to new heights.

Individual performances from Olivia Hall Smith as Jenny, Tayman Jamae as Phillip and Samson Alston as Adam were remarkably involved and beyond delightful. But is is well worth noting every time Georgia Brindley, I can’t say ‘entered’ so much as OWNED the stage she managed to glide from scene to scene, line to line and beat to beat on a cloud of electric energy which lit up the evening right through to the last psychotic and soul crushing moment of the climax. I should be very surprised if we don’t see a great deal more of Brindley on the Australian stage in the near future, in fact I’ll be down right disappointed if we don’t.

Image: David Hooley

Larry Kelly’s lighting design I daresay was the most understated part of the evening, subtle, charming and effortlessly suggestive of the environment of the play, it became a very solid unifying element to tie the visual elements of the evening together.

Don’t walk into this play expecting The Crucible. But walk in expecting to be charmed, delighted and entertained by a very genuine feeling production with some extraordinary actors. An excellent panel of performers and team members have made Lambert House Enterprises’ ”The Shape of Things” not one to be missed.

Playing at Flight Path Theatre until January 31st.

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