Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Shape of Things” as Want to Read:
The Shape of Things
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Shape of Things

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,623 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
A startling dissection of cruelty and artistic creation from the author of In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors

In a modern version of Adam's seduction by Eve, The Shape of Things pits gentle, awkward, overweight Adam against experienced, analytical, amoral Evelyn, a graduate student in art. After a chance meeting at a museum, Evelyn and Adam embark on an in
Paperback, 138 pages
Published July 8th 2002 by Faber Faber (first published November 15th 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Shape of Things, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Shape of Things

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction

By the end of the play, I felt no sympathy for anyone. Not to be confused with being drawn in to a character and having a personal dislike of said character. This was more a disinterest in the characters as each was a two-dimensional caricature for different aspects of gender binaries. Evelyn comes off less like an engaging, emotionally distant, woman, and more like an unintelligible mashup of every middle-school insecurity a heterosexual man would have about women. Adam is such the model of the

Aug 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre, 2008
What I loved about this play was the no one comes out unscathed. Each of the characters story arc is complex and you are never really sure of their motives.
The role of Evelyn is without doubt one of the best female roles I have read on the page and seen on the screen. She can be played as the cool heartless bitch but there is always the opportunity to bring some empathy to her. You should be left wondering at the end whether she ever did care for Adam or not.
I love LaBute's writing, it is hone
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-school
I had to read "The shape of things" by Neil Labute for my English class.
Before we started reading it, we had the topic "gender roles", so the play is a bit about it. It's also about art, about friendship and love and hate nad the things going this these things.

But mainly, it's focus is on the change of Adam, one of the four characters. When he meets Evelyn, he changes a lot, on the outside and on the inside. His friends, Jenny and Phillip, are suspicous of this whole new Adam, and they bla
Apr 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: horrible
Have you ever been given a lecture about not giving in to peer pressure, or how any relationship in which your significant other pressures you to leave healthy friendships in the dust is not a relationship you should be in?

Congratulations. You already have almost all of the useful lessons you might possibly be able to glean from this terrible play without having to read this terrible play.

The main character, Adam, is an average Joe, desperate for love. Suddenly this beautiful art student start
May 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: plays
The play was cliched, uninteresting, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I tried to like, understand, and relate to the characters, but they were bland and caricatured to the point that they were nothing more than Saturday morning cartoon characters with a pointless misadventure disguised as a plot. The worst Michael Cera characters still have more interesting qualities than the characters in this play. The dialogue was laughable at best, abysmal at worst.
Perhaps if more time were spent making
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ellesse by: Tyler Hillam
Shelves: plays
Ah- Labute's Breadwinner.
The Shape of Things- I knew about this play for so long after first hearing a bad review of it- and keeping off my 'To Read' list for the longest time. I would stand in Southern Utah Universities Audio/Visual Library in the basement just holding the DVD copy and trying to talk myself into renting it- well I finally did and adored it!

The play itself is an answer (not really) to a long debated argument of what Art really is/can be. It's true, it really doesn't provide 'an
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-stars
Really interesting concept that really makes you think about all the questions it brings up. Evelyn and Adam are very well-constructed characters and the plot is really well done, one hardly expects that big twist at the end. Quite the impactful play.
May 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wow, what a brutally honest play. This cuts deep into everyone's conscience since so many people have low self esteem. I began to really hate the female lead and felt more and more sympathy for the male lead because he didn't even realize what was happening. He just thought he was in love.
Sep 16, 2012 rated it liked it
For the sake of art, evelyn is such a bitch.
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was better than I thought it was going to be! I have to read it for a class and I'm glad I'm in this play. its a great look at the lines of art and what should be considered art. I'm impressed.
Aug 11, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Neil LaBute is the Fox news of playwrights. (He wants to titillate and then wag his finger at you for being titillated.)
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, betrayal, drama, love
One of my favorite LaBute plays. Raises a lot of questions, but is also a fun ride.
Tanja Hin
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Andrew Lynch
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-lit
“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” – Guy Dubord, “The Society of the Spectacle”

What is art? Who decides? And, how far should artistic creation be permitted to go? What about consequences?

Images. We all attempt to construct an image to portray to the world. And, with the onset of reality entertainment, we have begun to recognize the production of images on a whole new level. But, are we fully aware of the attempts of others to in
On the surface, this play seems to criticize the American obsession with perfection. Evelyn transpasses a line when she first meets Adam, by stepping over the robe at the museum. It is also the first time she transpasses the moral lines, because she decorates an ancient sculpture and she, silently, starts to work on her new project, Adam. Both these morally questionable actions are painted in a devilish red: she vandalizes the sculpture with red paint, which she also uses to spray her number int ...more
Jackie Maloney
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My heart ached for Adam in a way that is hard to explain. But what I can say is that I really really enjoyed reading it. It held my attention throughout and I found the characters deeply interesting.
Sep 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dramas, am-lit
Sweet Jiminy Jahosephat, my recent reading of The Magus made me remember just what I love and hate about LaBute.

It is that he pulls people in better than anyone else. He urges compassion and sympathy with humanity. And then he slams the door in the face of everyone who feels that way and sneeringly laughs alongside his rogues gallery of smiling sociopaths.

I did the first scene with a friend for a drama class, and we were both so compelled that we read the whole thing in one sitting. Once it wa
Simon Sweetman
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like reading the scripts of LaBute's plays/films - though some don't quite sing without the performances attached. The Shape of Things is great, but it's so cold, so brutal on the page. I like that. But the filmed version was better.
Nur Diyana
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it
senang cerita, ini adalah sebuah buku script teater (play) yg sangat mengancam minda (ye ke? sikit la) aku sebenarnya tak boleh bayang macamana script ni boleh diterjemah ke pentas (bukan org teater) yg pasti walaupun nampak kompleks dari penggunaan kata, kita boleh agak apa yang terjadi. ini yg dinamakan socialization atas nama seni. pelajar luar negara nampaknya suka bermain seni dengan mengambil atau mengguna pakai terma-terma psikologi. sementara kita di malaysia masih berlegar dari sudut su ...more
Sarah Reese
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes plot twists and plays
Shelves: own
The ending threw me through such a loop! Completely unexpected!

I spent all but the very last few pages thinking this was a kind of dull drama about a guy who is dating a girl who is actually really bad for him. I just can't believe how wrong I was about the end.

In my opinion, the quality of this play really lies in its close because of how unpredictable it really is. It definitely left me questioning about morals and about whether what happened was truly horrible, or if it was actually a p
Liz Bernardo
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Intriguing work about subjectivity and art - especially the art of manipulation. As I read, I wanted to hate Evelyn for what she was doing to Adam and everyone around her, but I unwittingly found myself drawn to her - as the rest of the characters do, and I even found myself sympathizing with her, noticing similarities between her and me. Maybe that makes me a bad person, or maybe it's just a mark of how great LaBute's writing is - we connect and sympathize with his "villain" despite ourselves. ...more
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
What an fantastic take on relationships and the dynamics of people. I saw this because one of my friends was mentioning something he had seen about a girl who used the changes she could create as an art project. I was intrigued, and picked up the film with Rachel Weiss and Paul Rudd. I was very impressed with the story, with its characters, with the themes. The manipulation that she puts into place with her boy sparked a debate between my friend and I.... Was it immoral of her to do this? I'm st ...more
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Neil Labute is one of my favorite contemporary playwrights. I think he really speaks to the modern world. This play is a great example of the work he does about self-image. It's really thought provoking and touching. You get attached to the characters and root for the underdog. The dialog flows like a real conversation. the way it's written makes it a little tricky to read at first but after a couple of pages you get into it. Totally worth a read.
Amanda Cogar
Feb 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This play by Neil LaBute is a modern day depiction of Adam's seduction by Eve. The characters are not subtly named. Amoral and analytical Eve seduces Adam and manipulates his emotions in such a way as to get him to go through extraordinary lengths to prove his love to her, though he doesn't seem to notice the changes occurring. By the end of the script Eve, in pursuit of her master's degree, has turned Adam from a shy, awkward, overweight young man to a thing of her design.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Probably one of the easiest plays to read only because there is no style or direction notes - it's mere conversations and dialogue, but they are superb. The entire greatness of the play lies on the conversation, and though it speaks simply to how some people wish to change things they don't like about their friends or spouses, the depth of how Evelyn crafts Adam into something entirely different so ruthlessly, is brilliant. One of my favorite plays!
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Hmm. Mostly it made me angry. I have no sympathy for characters who have no self identity, and even less for characters who take advantage. And I don't usually like plays and movies that borrow from pop culture. They should be more timeless than that.

And I totally saw the ending coming, so I didn't get to enjoy the shock of the revelation. Meh.

BUT I really enjoyed Adam's closing rant about art, re: what made Picasso Picasso.
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
had to read this play for my drama class and i really enjoyed it. though obviously morally unacceptable, i found the whole concept of evelyn's project really intriguing. i found that everyone's initial reaction when reading about the reveal of evelyn's project was about what a bitch she was but i found myself kind of admiring her as a character (oops?). i liked this play a lot and it's easily my favourite play out of all the plays i've studied.
May 14, 2014 rated it liked it
I had no idea how to rate this as I found it interesting...but some of it didn't sit right with me...nobody was likeable (well, Jenny was alright but we saw less of her than anyone else) but I'm sure that was kind of the point. It was just the whole Adam and Eve thing, isn't that a bit done? The whole woman tempting and manipulating the man thing... Really? But it raised a lot of interesting questions about art and a discussion about this play would be very interesting!
Brenna Smith
Mar 17, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-hated
I hated the characters, I hated the situations, I hated the twist ending. I guess that's what the author was going for in the end but to me it just fell flat and tasteless. Only read this if you don't mind being pissed off at the characters the entire time. The only reason I finished this was because I had to read it for English class.
JP Martinez
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I loved/hated this book. if you read it you will know why its so good, and why you will hate it.

this book explores the nature of objectivity and disinterestedness. I feel like this is in a lot of ways a very postmodern way to look at existentialism. Sure they are two different realms, but this book seems to cross the lines in some ways.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • This is Our Youth
  • Closer
  • Dog Sees God
  • Dinner With Friends
  • Stop Kiss
  • Bug
  • Topdog/Underdog
  • All in the Timing
  • Red Light Winter
  • Burn This
  • The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Other Plays
  • Rabbit Hole
  • 'Art'
  • Speed-the-Plow
  • Dead Man's Cell Phone (TCG Edition)
  • Ruined
  • subUrbia
  • Becky Shaw
Neil LaBute is an American film director, screenwriter and playwright.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, LaBute was raised in Spokane, Washington. He studied theater at Brigham Young University (BYU), where he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At BYU he also met actor Aaron Eckhart, who would later play leading roles in several of his films. He produced a number of plays that pushed
More about Neil LaBute...

Share This Book