Review: The Shape of Things – Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

I should preface this review by admitting that it’s pretty late in the day to be actually writing it. There are only a handful of productions left before the end of the season. However, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the play on Monday night and I’m learning Colemak (and thus need to practice my typing) so why not?

The Shape of Things © Theatre by the Lake
The Shape of Things
© Theatre by the Lake

Thus without further ado, on Monday night I went to see The Shape of Things at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. Firstly, I love the Theatre by the Lake. It’s a beautifully situated theatre and the quality of the professional productions it hosts is always very high.

This summer season of plays is the first I have experienced having moved to Keswick a bit earlier this year. I have now seen five of the six plays that have been running during the summer season which kicked off in May. And although I’ve really enjoyed all five plays, I think The Shape of Things may have taken the biscuit as my favourite.

So, enough preamble, The Shape of Things is a contemporary play set on a college campus in the States. The specifics aren’t particularly important to the plot so I won’t bother regurgitating the synopsis here. The action begins in a campus gallery when a girl, Evelyn, begins an enigmatically flirtatious conversation with an attendant, Adam, by intentionally crossing a “do not cross” line. Here begins a relationship which forms the central storyline to the play. However, all is not quite what it seems and there is a real twist that I, for one, didn’t see coming.

As with all the plays this season, The Shape of Things features a terrific cast including Peter McGovern as Adam, who I’ve also seen in his roles as Vincent Van Gogh in Vincent In Brixton and Eric Birling in An Inspector Calls. In each performance he has been utterly convincing and his versatility across the roles is very impressive.

However perhaps the main character of the play is Sophie Melville’s Evelyn which she performs with so much conviction I found myself disliking her more and more as the play went on, forgetting that she is just acting. (If you get to see it you will understand!)

There are only two other actors in the play, Benjamin Askew and Heather Saunders who play Adam’s friends Philip and Jenny. They provide a great supporting context in explaining Adam’s character and transformation as the story develops.

As ever, the production values are very high and very slick. The set is minimalist but surprisingly effective.

The Shape of Things is a wonderful evening’s entertainment and if you do get a chance to see it before the final performance on 8 November, I’d highly recommend it.

Update: Incidentally, having seen the play I discovered that there is also a 2003 film of it starring Paul Rudd and Rachel Weisz. More info here.

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