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New Edgecliff Returns with “The Shape of Things”

New Edgecliff Returns with The Shape of Things

Sneak Peek by Abby Rowold of The Shape of Things: New Edgecliff Theatre

Cincinnati theatregoers should be eagerly awaiting New Edgecliff Theatre’s next production, The Shape of Things. New Edgecliff has been using local talent in its powerful productions since 1998. Last fall’s Frankie and Johnny at the Clare de Lune was a true gift, finely acted and skillfully directed.

The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute premiered in 2001 starring Paul Rudd as Adam and Rachel Weisz as Evelyn; they also starred in the film version which came out in 2003. It tells the story of poor overweight loser Adam, who loses his girlfriend to his best friend. He meets Evelyn in an art museum as she is about to graffiti some artwork. She sees an opportunity in Adam and begins to date him. Over the course of their relationship, Adam trims down and starts to dress better. He is even able to recapture the admiration of his ex. The audience is treated to an artful surprise about three quarters of the way through the play.

The strong cast is made up of a couple of Clifton Performance Theatre regulars, Carter Bratton and Leah Strasser, as Phillip and Jenny. Rebecca Whatley plays Evelyn. Her work in NET’s 2013 production of Proof, for which she earned an LCT nomination, was praised as “natural and unforced,” “a touching mixture of bewilderment, bravado, and brokenness that commanded my attention and did not let up.” Matt Krieg, who you may remember from The Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre’s fine production of 1776 last July, rounds out the cast as Adam.

Elizabeth A. Harris, former artistic director of NET, is directing. I asked her a few questions about the upcoming production.

This play was written 15 years ago? Was it dated at all, or does it hold up?

This show speaks to not only the question of what is art, how do we define art, but it also speaks to identifying self-worth in a society where image and looks are everything. We see it all the time on magazine covers and on TV and in movies, a person’s worthiness as a human is defined by how beautiful or handsome they are and not by their intelligence or their humanitarian efforts. We are so mired in this that there has to be a positive body image movement. So despite the play being written 15 years ago it still holds up because these are issue we still tackle today.

Why did LaBute choose the names Adam and Evelyn? What does the Garden of Eden have to do with art?

This play has themes of creation and the creator but also sin. Is it destined that the beauty of creativity turns dark and sinful and if so at what point does it happen? Do we have the power of higher reasoning to avoid the sin? These questions parallel the garden of Eden and Adam and Eve. I think that’s why LaBute chose Adam and Evelyn.

What stood out about your cast? How did they win the roles?

It’s a great cast. I’m so lucky to have them in this show. Some of the finest talent in Cincinnati!

The Shape of Things plays April 14-30 7:30 pm, at the Hoffner Lodge in Northside (4120 Hamilton Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45223)
tickets: 513 428 7311 | cincyticket.com

Keep your eyes peeled for the NET 2016-2017 season announcement coming soon. Go to newedgecliff.com for more details.