Pushing boundaries in "The Shape of Things"

By Judith Van Praag
Examiner Arts Writer

It's all about boundaries, and the distance people are willing to go for relationships, love, and for art. "The Shape of Things," mounted by local theater company ReAct under the direction of David Hsieh, plays this month at the Richard Hugo House.

The play opens with Evelyn (Angela DiMarco) stepping over the velvet rope keeping patrons at a safe distance from an exhibited sculpture in a gallery, spray can in hand. You immediately know that this character is out to shock, ready to make a statement, leaving an indelible impression on the audience.

The gallery guard, Adam (David S. Hogan), a dorky English major badly dressed and horribly groomed, is enticed to ask for the telephone number of the attractive and forward Evelyn.

Would you buy that, a schmuck being picked up by a pretty girl? Adam himself has a hard time understanding what the beautiful graduate art student sees in him. And he's not alone in that; his best pal Phillip (Jeffrey Grimm), who is about to take the plunge and marry his sweetheart Jenny (mona Leach, of "Sex in Seattle: Episode 9"), questions the whole affair. But when Evelyn and Adam kiss (DiMarco and Hogan are married in real life), there is fire! PDA (public display of affection) abounds. Oh, yes, this is a sexy play.

However, "The Shape of Things" is much more than that. With brazen and manipulative Evelyn (by the never-faltering DiMarco), impressionable Adam (though Hogan quit law school, I can see him in any role on "Law & Order") and his corruptible friends Phillip and Jenny, playwright/director Neil LaBute ("In the Company of Men," "Nurse Betty") challenges our notions about role patterns and morale. These highly compatable actors make LaBute's statements believable all the way.

In this clever, versatile set, David Hsieh's stage directions for both major and minor characters (such as Jessica Knippel, Agastya Kohli, Jane Moon, Lionel Sam and Evan Tucker that double as passersby and backstage crew) result in a smooth choreography. His attention for detail is eagerly mirrorred by all of the participationg actors.

The play's theme — transformation — is carried on in David Hsieh's set design as well as the actor's wardrobe. The big shift in everybody's conscience — both on stage and in the auditorium — comes with DiMarco's strong deliverance of her character's graduate thesis speech. A big bang if there ever was one.

"The Shape of Things" by ReAct (the Repertory Actors Theatre, Pacific Northwest's only Multiethnic Philanthropic Theatre Company) plays at the Richard Hugo House (1634 11th Ave., Seattle) through March 26. Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. $12 Adult; $9 student, Military & Disabled; $6 Children 11 and under. www.reacttheatre.org


March 16-April 5, 2005


© 2005 The International Examiner. Reprinted with permission by ReAct.