As his newest drama, The Mercy Seat, performs at MCC Theatre Off-Broadway, playwright-director Neil LaBute's film version of his last work, The Shape of Things, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Jan. 16-26, 2003. The film will tentatively be released theatrically in April or May 2003 according the scribe.
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 Focus Features film.
The new LaBute film will replicate the stage production with the exception of the music. The many theatre reviewers who noted the supposed blaring tunes of 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 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, with Gretchen Mol and Frederick Weller as Rudd's friends — all of whom repeated their performances in the New York debut of the drama at Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre. The Shape of Things opened at London's Almeida Theatre May 30, 2001, (previews from May 24) and ran to June 23. Performances resumed for two weeks in the summer, to Aug. 4 before coming stateside. The OB production began previews Sept. 20 and opened Oct. 10 for a run through Jan. 20.
LaBute's new stagework The Mercy Seat starring Sigourney Weaver and Liev Schreiber began previews Off-Broadway Nov. 26. The MCC Theater production will open Dec. 18 for a limited run through Jan. 12. Visit the MCC website at www.mcctheater.com for more info.
The Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah runs Jan. 16-26. For updates and information, visit http://festival.sundance.org.
— by Ernio Hernandez
and Robert Simonson