This past weekend marked the last three performances of the JSU Drama Department’s production of Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things.
The play features only four cast members: Drew Sprayberry as Adam, Savannah Jones as Evelyn, Daniel King as Phillip, and Lauren Crider as Phillip’s fiancé Jenny.
The show was held in JSU’s intimate Studio Theater, or the “black box” as some of the performers call it. It is a small, dark room, which completely set the tone for the very personal performance the actors were about to give.
“This show fit perfectly into the intimate space of the black box. It brought the audience closer to the action, the characters,
made them involved with what was going on. Something like a big musical would just be distracting in the black box. This show was great for it,” said Sprayberry.
This was Sprayberry’s first performance with JSU’s Drama Department. He is a senior, majoring in Drama.
The show begins when Evelyn and Adam meet in the museum that Adam works at. Evelyn, an outgoing art student, immediately establishes the dominance that audience members see throughout the play. She is planning on spray painting a certain male appendage on a piece of art that Adam is supposed to be guarding.
“This was the most ‘provocative’ show I've ever been a part of. It took a lot of considering before I accepted the role, but I think the content was critical for telling the story to its fullest. It was just a window into the everyday lives and language of college students,” said Sprayberry.
The show seems like a normal enough love story at first, but the ending is far from predictable. Throughout the play, Evelyn and Adam begin dating, and Adam starts to make extreme transformations in his life. He loses lots of weight, he starts wearing contact lenses, and he even gets a nose job, all at the coy suggestions of Evelyn.
Adam’s friends Phillip and Jenny watch his transformation, constantly questioning this new girlfriend’s motives, as she is seemingly molding him into a new man. Naïve, meek Adam was portrayed perfectly by Sprayberry’s performance.
“Adam was a terrific role to play; he was a transformation. My character made changes after every scene, and not just costume and hair, but behavior and way of thinking as well. That's a fun role for an actor.”
Throughout the show, Evelyn talks about how art is subjective, and she is asked about a project she is working on, which is a sculpture that she is careful never to give any detail about. The audience eventually comes to find that Evelyn, powerfully
portrayed by Savannah Jones, is more manipulative and heartless than is originally thought.
It turns out that Evelyn’s sculpture is more elaborate than anyone suspected. She reveals at the end of the play, after a marriage proposal from Adam, that Adam is in fact her sculpture. She was never truly dating him at all, and the whole sake of the relationship was for her project. Her professor told her to “change the world” with her art, yet instead she chose to “change someone’s world.” In the last scene, Evelyn performs an intense monologue explaining that she is simply an artist, nothing more, nothing less, and she has done nothing wrong.
Adam’s humiliation and Evelyn’s heartlessness in the final moments of the play leave the audience questioning the boundaries of art, and the boundaries of how far one will go to please the one they love. Everything is subjective.