There is a sinister, twisted side to love – and that feeling can contort your sense of self. In the wrong hands, the power can be a nightmare played out in real life.
Unfortunately for Adam, played by Mario Silva, in ‘The Shape of Things, it’s this caricature of emotion that he comes across when he meets Evelyn (Genette Harrison).
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The dark comedy written by Neil LaBute, which runs at the Junction from August 26-29, explores the meeting of a nerdy student and an art-grad who wants to slowly change everything about him.
The story posits a question we must all ask ourselves – how far are you willing to go for the one you love? For Adam, the changes range from a tweak in style to an appointment with a plastic surgeon.
Director Sarah Potter says she came across a telling in 2011. “I saw it performed in a small art gallery on London’s Soho in 2011, directed by Tom Attenborough, and was bowled over by [how] the characters changed so much over the course of the play (physically and emotionally) just through the power of acting. And the ending just blew me away!”
This year, she found, was perfect to re-animate the tale. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted – as it has most things – the working out of the script. “Lockdown was quite a blessing in disguise for us, in that we had time to reflect on the characters’ back stories and, instead of rehearsing from the script, the cast acted out vignettes of events referred to, but not played out in the script, and improved around events in the characters’ pasts,” she explains.
The actor’s practised in the coronavirus era- approved method – over Zoom – for four months. “You don’t normally get a chance to be able to really explore the characters outside of the script, but it really helps inform the character’s state of mind going into a scripted scene,” says Potter.
The part of calculating puppet master, played by Harrison, can be difficult to perfect. But, says the actor: “The character is not hard to play once you get inside her head and understand her inner workings. She is the polar opposite to me, both mentally and physically, so it has been a great, fun challenge to step into her shoes."
Meanwhile, for chump Adam as for Silva, the man behind the player, being the object of someone’s whims and fancies comes with an emotional price tag. “It’s a bit of a gamble to be honest, you never really know how you’ll feel at the end of a show, it’s part of the adrenaline that drives you from the beginning, regardless of the genre I find it overwhelming at the end of any performance, it’s emotional and sometimes you feel a little empty, group hugs with the cast always help,” he says.
Don’t be surprised if you too need a hug at the end of the performance – for all its witty lines and comic moments, this is a story of love – the dark, distressing kind.
Don’t miss it!
Tickets to ‘The Shape of Things’, which runs at the Junction from August 26-29, are Dh80.