The Shape of Things, which closed at Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre on Jan. 20 after a limited run, has shaped up into a film project to be released in May 2003 as confirmed by a Focus Features spokesperson. Playwright Neil LaBute — who is, of course, better known to the world as filmmaker Neil LaBute — adapted and directed the big screen version of his play, featuring the original stage cast of Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz, Gretchen Mol and Frederick Weller. USA Films and Working Title Films will produce.
The new LaBute film will replicate the stage production with the exception of the music. The many theatre reviewers who mentioned the supposed blaring tunes of the rock group The Smashing Pumpkins may take solace as the music for the film version will be replaced by Elvis Costello songs. LaBute's previous films include "In the Company of Men," "Your Friends and Neighbors" and "Nurse Betty."
Shape looked at what constitutes identity — and what we give up when we change ourselves. The show began previews Sept. 20 and opened Oct. 10. The darkly humorous play concerns an art student who befriends and then transforms a museum guard. The play is said to peel back the skin of two modern relationships and asks the questions: How far would you go for love? How far for art? What would you be willing to change? Which price might you pay?
Shape began life in the UK. The London cast of the Almeida production of The Shape of Things included Paul Rudd as the guard, Rachel Weisz as the art student, and Gretchen Mol and Frederick Weller as Rudd's friends—all of whom repeated their performances in the New York debut of the drama.
The Shape of Things opened at London's Almeida Theatre May 30, 2001, (previews from May 24) and ran to June 23 with the foursome. Performances resumed for two weeks in the summer, to Aug. 4. *
In 2000, the Almeida presented the British premiere of LaBute's bash. bash was a hit Off-Broadway, in a limited engagement staging that featured Calista Flockhart, Ron Eldard and Paul Rudd. LaBute's previous plays include Filthy Talk for Troubled Times, Sanguinarians and Sycophants, Rounder and Ravages.
LaBute's next stagework The Mercy Seat starring Sigourney Weaver and Liev Schreiber begins previews Off-Broadway Nov. 26. The MCC Theater production will open Dec. 18 for a limited run through Jan. 12.
— by Ernio Hernandez
and Robert Simonson