Reviews are coming in for Neil LaBute’s play The Shape of Things, in a new revival by Nicky Allpress for the Park Theatre in London.
LaBute’s dark comedy stars Peaky Blinders’ Amber Anderson and Bridgerton’s Luke Newton, alongside Carla Harrison-Hodge (Cyrano de Bergerac) and Majid Mehdizadeh-Valoujerdy (Hollyoaks).
Joining Nicky Allpress (The Walworth Farce, Southwark Playhouse) in the creative team are: Set and Costume design by Peter Butler, Lighting design by Anna Reddyhoff, Sound design by Asaf Zahor, Costume supervision by Alexandra Kharibian, and Casting Director by Amy Jane Blair.
A drama about human relationships and the nature of love and art, The Shape of Things is running until 1 July 2023 at the Park Theatre.
Read reviews including the Evening Standard and The Stage, with more reviews to follow.
The Shape of Things reviews
"Neil LaBute’s 2003 classic is as finely engineered as a sports car"
"Though slightly dated, the play is slick and efficient - and funny"
"Twenty-two years on Neil LaBute’s take on Pygmalion – in which a young female artist turns a nerd into a stud – still has pulling power."
"It’s well-served here by director Nicky Allpress in a brisk staging, stylishly designed by Peter Butler, with a cracking post-punk soundtrack. There are pleasing, well-shaped performances from Luke ‘Bridgerton’ Newton and Amber ‘Peaky Blinders’ Anderson in the lead roles."
"The romantic betrayals among the four and the once-shocking swearing seem almost quaint now, but the humour and the ideas remain strong."
"Slick and sinister"
"Committed performances empower this slick, unfussy revival"
"LaBute has made slender tweaks to the text in preparation for this revival, ensuring that the play’s themes remain pertinent in a cultural environment that has, if anything, grown less kind, more exploitative and increasingly fixated on subjective interpretations of right and wrong."
"Director Nicky Allpress sets a snappy pace here, breezing through the play’s witty conversations while building an effective sense of unease that grows steadily until the devastating final-act twist."
"Making her stage debut, Amber Anderson gives a strong performance as Evelyn, the graduate student setting out to transform a hapless bystander, Pygmalion-style, into a model of skin-deep, mainstream attractiveness."
"Neil LaBute’s battle of the sexes still crackles"
"The dialogue still crackles in Nicky Allpress’s pacey revival, even if the piece is a tad too schematic, and the final scene adds a debate about art and ethics that audience members should be left to have among themselves on the way home."
"Luke Newton (familiar from Bridgerton) adroitly captures a mixture of vulnerability and new-found pride. Amber Anderson (Peaky Blinders) is equally impressive as Evelyn, who has a near-sociopathic view of the power of art yet has the chutzpah to tell her lover, “I’m a very straightforward person"."
"The audience merrily laughed along every time she twisted the knife. LaBute has that effect on people."
"Seductive sociopaths show cruel intent"
"The tension is raised in Neil LaBute’s dark comedy as entitled Evelyn sets about remoulding unworldly Adam from geek to good-looking boyfriend"
"... Nicky Allpress’s slick production reminds us of its innate theatricality. The dialogue still sounds fast, fresh and funny, the cast catching its beats, although the savagery in the script never fully bares its teeth."
"The production comes with period elements intact from 90s music (Air, the Chemical Brothers) to cultural references (Women’s lib, American Gigolo), and Peter Butler’s set is made up of suitably soulless blank white lines with occasional neon and light showers."
"Neil LaBute’s romcom gets a sharp, funny revival"
"... this revival is clever, funny and chilling – as good as new."
"Luke Newton is first-rate as Adam: bespectacled, twitchy, faux mature – his personality seems as ill-fitting as his trad brown jacket."
"Nicky Allpress’s hugely enjoyable, intellectually teasing and tightly directed production offers us aspects of love that we will just have to hope never get set to music."
"Verdict: Shapely fit-up"
"Peaky Blinders’ cruel temptress Amber Anderson nails the part with a wry detachment and forensic purpose. And Luke Newton manages his transition from zero to hero, while remaining loveably and fatally incredulous at his astonishing good luck."
"The play can be mistaken for an attempt to present a serious moral dilemma, when really it’s just a theatrical sting and the ethical equivalent of chewing-gum. But it’s good sport all the same."