Despite pop cultures sugary tributes to true love, people who think know its not a sure thing. Then again, it seems that people who think are going out of style.
Enter American playwright and provocateur Neil LaBute. At 48, with a string of plays and films behind him and a new play recently performed on Broadway, LaBute seems to grasp where weve gone astray.
Now enter Merely Players, the theatrical company founded by Mona Wood-Patterson and Charles Ford. During summers and now after retiring from a stellar program at Durango High School, Wood-Patterson and Ford will bring yet another thought-provoking drama to an intimate theater near you.
The Players begin a seven-show run next week of LaButes tantalizing The Shape of Things at the Back Space Theatre.
We discovered we could have this narrow window to get a space and the actors we wanted, Charles Ford said in a telephone interview last week.
The actors have other commitments this summer, but we could get them together for this play. Doug Sitter at Back Space wanted to do this, too.
The Back Space seats 60 people and is just right for LaButes four-character play about love, friendship, power and betrayal. If youve seen any of his plays or films, you know why LaBute is a controversial writer and director. The word shocking has been applied to his early works, especially In the Company of Men. Through a very dark lens, LaBute looks at relationships with Darwinian clarity whether they are friendships, love pacts or work-world liaisons.
Can satire be far away? Not with LaBute, who has surprised people by directing film comedies such as Nurse Betty and Death at a Funeral.
The Shape of Things is LaButes power ball commentary on modern dating and mating. It started as a play and became a film in 2003 starring Paul Rudd and Rachel Weisz.
Ford said they chose this play to add some meaty, adult theater to our cultural mix this summer. Four local actors whom many of us have seen in the past under Wood-Pattersons direction will return now that they have acquired more training, earned college degrees and/or professional credits. Elizabeth Gray (Evelyn), Adam Fontana (Adam), Erik Andersson (Phillip) and Lynzee Newton (Jenny) make up the cast.
Heres the plot: In the beginning, to set a biblical tone for LaButes thinly disguised modern interpretation of the Garden of Eden, Adam meets Evelyn in an art museum. Shes an MFA candidate surreptitiously planning to vandalize a statue. The scene sets in motion their odd romantic relationship, hints at a wider circle of friends and brilliantly weaves moral issues into a tangled fabric.
Every detail counts, and theres a stunning payoff at the end that will provoke a lot of discussion.
Because of the mature material, there are no childrens tickets. For reservations call 749-8585 or check out http://merelyplayers.us.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at email@example.com.