If the relationship from one of the most famous creation stories ever told were played out today — that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden — what would the values, themes and entire unfolding of the relationship look like?
Engine Productions, a local artist-run theatre company, is staging its conception this weekend.
The cast and crew’s interpretation of American author Neil LaBute’s play “The Shape of Things” ventures to explore the themes of love, art and egocentrism in the context of a modern version of Adam’s seduction by Eve.
Newcomer Michael Smith plays Adam, a museum security guard who, one fateful day, meets Evelyn, a passionate artist and imminent vandal, played by Laura Huckle.
Adam becomes the work’s centerpiece as the story unfolds and, through his interactions with Evelyn, we witness “Adam’s transformation ... physically, mentally,” says Jenn Brown, the play’s director. “And then there are two other characters, Phillip and Jenny (played by Ross Moore and Kimberley Drake), who are the best friends, and the whole thing is seeing Adam transform completely because of this relationship,” she explains.
“At the end, when it all comes together, it’s (the question of), how far are you willing to go for your art? Where are there lines in art, in relationships, in how you treat one another, how you build yourself as an artist and also how you take more responsibilities for your actions.”
Brown, Huckle and Drake, all graduates of Grenfell College’s theatre arts program, are behind the grassroots theatre company, and they’re eager to continue exploring the ins and outs of life through the art they learned while at university.
“The reality of working as an artist here in St. John’s, or anywhere really, is that you need to have a day job. You need to find a balance between doing what you’ve trained for, what you’ve invested in, what you love, and then also try to pay your bills,” explains Brown.
Rather than succumb to the reality the three saw around them, where artists they know “stopped practising their art because they couldn’t afford to,” says Brown, they pooled their talents, resourcefulness and pitched “70 bucks each into a box,” Brown laughs, and set on their journey to create theatre “regardless of financial support.”
Huckle wrote and choreographed that first production, “Just to Love,” and the play was one of the first shows to run at the LSPU Hall’s new Second Space last March.
“We had a really good turnout, reviews were really great, and two of the members of that cast went on to start in the fall studying theatre in Ontario,” says Brown.
“The Shape of Things” involves mature subject matter and language, but is dear to Brown and her partners “because it was relevant to what all of us went through, especially when we were all studying fine arts in university, and now as living artists, as people who are young and curious and trying to figure out our own lives and outlooks.”
“The Shape of Things” runs at the Ontop/Above ‘alt gallery’ at 362 Duckworth St. in St. John’s, Friday through Sunday at 8 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.
For more information visit www.engineproductions.ca.