A transforming tale


POSTED: Thursday, March 18, 2010

A geeky young man with low self-esteem and minimal social skills lucks into a relationship with a self-assured young woman he meets moments before she spray-paints the genital area of a bowdlerized statue at his place of employment. Evelyn sweeps Adam off his feet and soon is choreographing a make-over. Adam changes his hairstyle from slicked down to “;Jon Bon Jovi,”; stops biting his nails, starts making better food choices, loses weight, switches from glasses to contact lenses and embarks on an exercise program.

“;My Fair Lady”; with the genders reversed? “;Pygmalion and Galatea”; reworked for the new century? Playwright Neil LaBute is exploring more than the phenomenon of metamorphosis in “;The Shape of Things,”; but with Ryan Wuestewald starring as Adam and Michelle Hurtubise as Evelyn, the second production by Paul Mitri's All the World's a Stage Theatre Co. is superb theater.

The script is a beautifully balanced blend of suspense and comedy, and director Hannah Schauer Galli gets excellent performances from a talented cast.






        » Where: The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Ave.


» When: 7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow; 2 p.m. Sunday


» Cost: $12, $10 students and seniors. Unsold/unclaimed tickets on Sunday will be sold at the door on a “;pay what you can”; basis shortly before show time.


» Call: (800) 838-3006, or visit or


Wuestewald again proves himself to be one of Honolulu's most convincing young stage actors as he hits every emotion and dramatic transition in perfect form. He seems perfectly cast playing an ineffectual nerd in the lengthy opening scene, but performs with the same success as we see Adam flustered or flummoxed or fighting the physical attraction of his best friend's fiancee, Jenny (Michelle Boudreau).

It turns out that Adam and Jenny were classmates for a semester, but he was too socially obtuse to notice her interest in him and too shy to ask her out. Adam's roommate, Philip (Reb Beau Allen), had no such inhibitions and “;stole her away from Adam,”; as he puts it, almost on first sight. Now Philip and Jenny are engaged, but both are having second thoughts about marriage — and Jenny confesses to Adam that she now finds him “;cute.”;

Boudreau is charming as the “;other woman”; in the story, highlighted by a key scene in which Jenny and Adam admit their feelings for each other, and another that has Evelyn luring Jenny and Adam into a conversation about their friendship.

Allen, too, is an important asset. Philip is at first glance domineering to the point of being overbearing and a bit of a bully — a character type Allen has always played well. However, Allen is every bit as convincing in a scene where Philip nearly begs Adam to allay his growing concerns that Adam and Jenny have hooked up, and rings true again in a scene in which he expresses his concern that Adam is being physically abused by Evelyn.

And then there's Hurtubise as the feminine Svengali whose persuasive skills sway Adam into making many positive changes in his life. The throughline in Hurtubise's provocative and chilling performance is the skill with which she gradually allows Evelyn's mask to slip.