Olivia Hall Smith, Tayman Jamae, Georgia Brindley and Samson Alston in. ‘The Shape Of Things’. Pic by David Hooley

American playwright Neil LaBute’s ‘The Shape Of Things’ is a formidable play. It is reminiscent of the play ‘Oleanna’ by fellow American playwright David Mamet. Both plays are like lightning bolts. Both pivot around a fierce, vindictive, savvy female protagonist.  

In ‘Oleanna’ the protagonist is Carol, a university student who goes to see her Professor, John in his faculty room in the hope that she will get a better mark for the paper she has submitted. Their meeting starts in a convivial way but then becomes more heated, ending up spiralling out of control and encompassing subjects far broader than one single essay.

In Neil Labute’s ‘The Shape Of Things’ the protagonist is Evelyn, a  feisty, radical young woman doing her Masters degree in Visual Arts. Evelyn sets her sights on timid, conservative Adam who is an arts undergraduate.  

They meet at an art gallery. Evelyn has come to the gallery with a spray can, intending to deface a painting. Adam, the security guard on duty, catches her before she has had a chance to begin. They start chatting. Adam has a laid back attitude to her unruly behaviour, and  is oddly drawn to it. 

Sparks fly between them. Adam summons up the courage to ask for her phone number. Evelyn replies by spray canning her phone number on the inside of his corduroy jacket.

For Adam it is the beginning of an exciting adventure. Evelyn starts turning his life around, organising new clothes, new haircut, new glasses. From being something of a schmuck Adam is transformed into a confident young man.  

Adam can’t wait to introduce Evelyn to his best friends, a couple, the high spirited Phillip and the delicate Jenny. It is so important to Adam that they like her. At first they are impressed by Evelyn and how she is changing Adam but soon express their concern that Evelyn is too domineering. 

The current revival of Labute’s 2001 play has been co-directed by Les Solomon and Rachel Marley.  Their production does the play justice. They also ensure that the play’s dark humour comes through.

The staging is impressive, especially the play’s climactic scenes. The set is fluid with stagehands deftly making set changes, with a darkly lit stage, after every scene. Larry Kelly’s lighting design is very effective.There’s an atmospheric soundscape, uncredited, which underscores the action well. Hanging white curtains hide the theatre’s two black painted back walls.  

Solomon and Marley win good performances from the cast whose passion for the play is clearly discernible. 

Georgia Brindley portrays Evelyn as an icy, narcissistic, cruel woman who suffers from tunnel vision and only cares about her own path.

Samson Alston plays Adam as a man in a kind of paralysis, not knowing which way to go. Does he dive further into the new identity that has been created or does he jump off whilst he still has vestiges of his original self to claim?!

Tayman Jamae’s Phillip is high spirited, overbearing, temperamental and astute.

Olivia Hall Smith’s Jenny is very emotional and delicate, fraying at the edges as the play gets ever darker.

‘The Shape Of Things’ is a rich, immersive experience. One is left with so many talking points. To name but a few…How much of our identity is of our own creation and how much is how people see us? What qualifies as art and what is  self indulgence? The interplay of life and art and how unhealthy it can become when common sense vanishes.  

I left the theatre with the Irish band The Corrs song ‘Everybody Hurts’ in mind.

“When your day is long 

And the night 

The night is yours alone

When you’re sure you’ve had enough of life

Well hang on 


Don’t let yourself go 

Cause everybody hurts 

And everybody hurts


Yes, the play is about hurt, but this is a  portrait of inconsolable hurt

Well worth a visit, Lambert House Enterprises production of Neil Labute’s ‘The Shape Of Things’ is playing the Flight Path Theatre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville until Sunday January 31.. Performance times Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm plus Saturdays at 2pm. and Sundays at 6pm. http://www.trybooking.com/BMUXN

Featured image Georgia Brindley as Evelyn in Neil Labute’s ‘The Shape Of Things’.

Production Photography by David Hooley


Samson Alston

Samson was in New York early last year and by a series of circumstances found himself in a one-off class with Sheila Gray, one of NYC’s top theatre and film coaches. Sheila singled him out for special attention and he joined several of her classes with some of America’s top young actors. Upon returning to Australia, Samson began regular online classes with her including many with the cast of “Riverdale”.  

Following this, Sheila invited Samson to join (without audition) a small, select group of America’s top young performers to take two weeks of classes with Tony Greco. Greco is something of a legend in America as he is the main proponent  today of the Lee Strasberg technique. Greco also was the principal coach of Phillip Seymour Hoffman who worked with Tony for all of his acting life. Samson was all set for the classes in August of this year, 2020.

Of course, everything changed with the onset of Covid-19. However, well-known local acting agent and director Les Solomon saw some of Samson’s work and invited him to be part of Zoom readings during lockdown. From this came a rehearsed online reading of then play: “The Credeaux Canvas” with Samson taking the leading role. 

The great success of these readings evolved into a full, live season of the show – the first professional theatre production to open in Sydney after the initial lockdown. Credeaux ran for 11 weeks and 53 performances and garnered extraordinary rave reviews for the show and for Samson.

As a result of his success in the show, Samson was cast in a leading guest role in the Channel 7 TV series “RFDS” (Royal Flying Doctor Service), landed key roles in five commercials and has now been cast again by Solomon as one of the leads in “The Shape of Things”.  

Samson has also just had two sell-out concerts in Sydney and two sell out concerts in Tweed Heads of his cabaret show “Times are Hard for Dreamers”.

 He says “It shows you that when one door closes another opens. What has happened to my career as a result of Covid has been very different from what I expected would happen in 2020. But the end result has been phenomenal”

 Samson Alston can next be seen in the lead role in Lambert House Enterprises production. of Neil LaBute’s ‘The Shape Of Things’ at the Flight Path Theatre in Marrickville.

 ‘The Shape of Things’ a brilliant play by Neil LaBute has five week season at the Flight Path Theatre starting with previews on the 8th and 9th January and is playing Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm plus Saturday 2pm and Sunday 6pm up until January 31, 2021.

The Flight Path Theatre is located at 142 Addison Road, Marrickville.

Tickets $45/$35 conc. Previews all tickets $25. 





Left to right- Tina Jackson, Luke Holmes, Claudia Coy and James Manera in THE SHAPE OF THINGS
Left to right- Tina Jackson, Luke Holmes, Claudia Coy and James Manera in THE SHAPE OF THINGS

THE SHAPE OF THINGS by Neil LaBute is a modern classic. It is on the HSC syllabus, was made into a successful film in 2003 and was most recently revived in London in 2013. The current JST production, as part of the Sydney Fringe, is not intimated by the play’s pedigree. This is a back to basics production which takes a closer look at the personal dynamics and cruelties at the heart of the piece in an entertaining and engaging way.

Adam and Evelyn meet in tricky circumstances in a small college town museum. She, a visual arts student, objects to the figleaf over the ‘grapes’ of a classic statue. He, a part-time security guard and English major, approaches her with concern about the spray can she has in her hand. She is caustic and opinionated; he is diffident and somewhat blank. Continue reading THE SHAPE OF THINGS @ KINGS CROSS HOTEL


The Shape of Things 1(1)-001
Diego AR Melo and Emilia Stubbs Grigoriou star in THE SHAPE OF THINGS

Gifted American film director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute has built up an impressive oeuvre of work since his first play FILTHY TALK FOR TROUBLED TIMES was first produced in 1989. For my money, his 1991 play THE SHAPE OF THINGS, ranks as one of his finest and most provocative works.

I first saw this play back in January 2005 in a great mainstream Sydney Theatre Company (STC) production  helmed by Jeremy Sims with wonderful performances by Leanna Walsmann as Evelyn and Brendan Cowell  as her victim/lover, Adam.

Yes of-course the show is performed on a  much smaller scale, nevertheless the Hot Room Theatre Group’s current revival at the tiny Horizon Theatre in Wiley Park, helmed by Steve Hopley, generated plenty of sparks.

You wouldn’t think that a play starts with an encounter and flirtation between an art gallery security guide and an abrasive, attractive young woman who wants to graffiti one of the gallery’s prized works of art would end up being a portrait of a ruthless, ambitious young artist who doesn’t think twice in using her personal life as raw material for her work without any responsibility for the emotional fallout that arises.

With Evelyn, LaBute has created a chilling, haunting role and Emilia Stubbs Grigoriou, who has primarily worked with Manly’s Rough Hewn Theatre Troupe, is up for it and gives a strong performance. UWS graduate Diego AR Melo holds his own as poor Adam, and Benjamin Buryo as his best friend, Philip and Alison Lee Rubie as his fiance, Jenny lend good support.

If you like your theatre with plenty of bite and really edgy dialogue, then try and make the trek out west before Hot Room’s production finishes on Sunday. The theatre is located on the corner of King George’s Road and Canterbury Road with off street parking.


‘The Shape of Things’ at the Sydney Theatre Company was in any terms exhilarating theatre.

Neil LaBute’s play was a brilliant piece of writing, strong in all areas. This was a play about careless love and its destructive consequences. Up and coming artist Evelyn was the perpetrator of the unhealthy love.

Jeremy Sims’s production served LaBute’s well. The performances were striking. Leanna Walsmann’s portrayal of the merciless, persecutory Evelyn was marked with a strong stage presence. For the role Walsmann came up with a haughty speaking voice that vividly expressed her character.
As Evelyn’s unfortunate victim Adam, Brendan Cowell gave a performance that cut close to the bone. His final scenes were aching! Cowell’s range was impressive, playing a character who was klutzy, a bit of a loser, out of touch with the world and yet with a big heart.

In supporting roles were played by Alyssa McLelland and Nick Flint as Adam’s friends, Jenny and Phillip. McLelland gave a touching performance, especially in a bittersweet scene with Cowell. Nick Flint was fine in the role of the cynical, straight talking Phillip.

Director Sims does much more than just let the words tell the story. Together with set designer Fiona Crombie a wonderful minimalist set design was created.As the characters changed their environments, they moved between miniature sets.

Aye Larkin’s (ex Skunk Hour) music score, with its Nick Cave feel, reinforced the play’s dark themes.

Damien Cooper’s scattered lighting design that featured flashing lights coming from underneath the sets, and some strobe lighting that flashed across the stage, complemented the play’s startling quality.

9 January, 2005