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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 20, 2003

University Theatres Stages Volatile 'The Shape of Things'

"The Shape of Things," a volatile mixture of love and art by peppery playwright and film director Neil LaBute, will open on the Mainstage series of University Theatres at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4 in the David Thayer Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. Other performances will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 5, 6 and 11-13, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 7 and 14.

The Dec. 5 audience will be invited to remain after the show for a "talkback" session, featuring Jon Winet, head of the UI intermedia area; Ron Cohen, a faculty member in the painting and drawing area of the UI School of Art and Art History; and Mark McCusker, an intermedia graduate research assistant.

LaBute has built a reputation for insightful and darkly witty explorations of the messiness of adult relationships and the complications created by manipulation and self-deception, including his work in the films "In the Company of Men" and "Your Friends and Neighbors."

For the University Theatres Mainstage series, UI Department of Theatre Arts faculty member Eric Forsythe will direct the original stage script of "The Shape of Things," which in its film adaptation provoked intense discussion at the Sundance Film Festival.

"I think the play is a passionate appeal for openness and humanity," Forsythe says. "For getting past your own narrow and selfish needs. It asks us which is more important: the people we work with or the work we do. It's a play about how much we need each other, especially today."

In "The Shape of Things" LaBute suggests questions including: How far would you go for love? For art? What would you be willing to change? What price might you pay? Is love just one of the disguises of power and control?

At first museum guard Adam is a classic nerd, a bit disheveled and overweight. But after Evelyn, a flirty and aggressive art student, takes a surprising interest in him, he slowly begins to change, in response to her prodding. What is she up to? How much will she ask? And how far will he go?

Critic James Berardinelli, reviewing LaBute's film version of "The Shape of Things," wrote that the show, "delivers a knockout final punch that will impact even those who see it coming . . . a singularly effective, grim perspective of contemporary romance." And critic Christopher Null called it "vicious but also very humorous. It's a bitingly dark and a lot of fun."

CNN's Paul Clinton added, "LaBute has a knack for challenging our concepts of love and relationships, and for mixing entertainment with strong messages. This powerful look at society's obsession with looks -- with 'the shape of things' -- will leave you with plenty of food for thought."

Other artistic contributors to the UI production of "The Shape of Things" are scenic designer William Moser, costume designer Lindsay Stang, lighting Designer Tim Kaufman, composer/sound designer Michael S. Cash and dramaturg Julie Canik.

This production includes material of an adult nature. Potential audience members who are concerned about whether the show is appropriate for them should seek additional information from the Department of Theatre Arts at 319-335-2700 or <>.

Tickets for "The Shape of Things" are $17 ($8 for UI students, senior citizens and youth) from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box office.

Tickets may also be purchased at a substantial discount as part of a Division of Performing Arts Subscription Series. Series packages may be constructed from University Theatres, UI Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theatre and University Symphony Signature Series events.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: .

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

University Theatres is the performance arm of the UI Department of Theatre Arts, a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

PHOTOS are available at

OTHER INFORMATION: The media can reach director Eric Forsythe at