Both love and art have a transformative power, allowing the opportunity to connect and to change. Whether that's for the better or the worse is explored in "The Shape of Things," which opens today at Stars Playhouse.
Director Mariah Bathe said she was drawn to the project because of the playwright, Neil Labute, who wrote the 2001 play that he adapted into a 2003 film starring Paul Rudd and Rachel Weisz, which he also directed.
"His writing is really great at capturing authentic human reactions and I feel strongly that a big part of appealing stories is relatability," Bathe wrote in an email.
The play centers on Adam (Ryan Lee), a college student who gets involved with Evelyn (Shelbe McClain), an art major working on a project that she only vaguely describes.
Their relationship is complicated by the involvement of Adam's friends, engaged couple Jenny (Maya Blackstone) and Phillip (Matthew Prewitt), who have troubles of their own.
As time goes on, Evelyn continues to encourage Adam to change his appearance and his habits as his friends react.
Bathe said the play toys with the themes of authenticity and transparency as it highlights how choices in relationships shape people and the world around them.
And while some may want to point the finger at which character behaves the worst, the director cautions that it's not that simple.
"Every story has a villain, but in this show, the villain is ever changing and cannot be dismissed," she wrote.
Regardless of how they view the flawed quartet at the heart of the show, Bathe hopes viewers leave feeling a connection to the story.
"This is a very captivating, modern love story that puts a magnifying glass over why we as society members enter into relationships," Bathe said in a news release. "This is not an average rom-com tale, but definitely an experience you do not want to miss."