Get Whipped into Shape (of Things)

One thing you should know about me is that, despite my whimsical, playful, and otherwise merry exterior, I am often filled with existential dread. I grapple with many of the timeless questions that have similarly stressed history’s great thinkers: why are we here? What is our purpose? Is there such thing as natural law? A universal conception of “good”?  Is there a God? If so, then why are there nations ravaged by famine? And war?  Who killed Kennedy? Am I an Evelyn? A Jenny? Maybe an Adam or a Phillip?

The latter questions have particularly upset me since Cabaret announced that The Shape of Things would be their third mainstage because I knew, as much as I wanted to escape it, that I would have to confront these questions. These questions, which are so fundamental to one truly understanding the essence of their being.

Discovering whether one is an Evelyn or an Adam or a Jenny or a Phillip is to finally discover who one truly is. No religion, no fasting, no yoga. This isn’t freaking astrology.

So, when I stepped into Cabaret for a preview of their rendition of Shape I took it with the utmost seriousness. Feeling already tense and anxious, I was taken aback (one might say I was shook) to see that Cabaret was different. Not like three elevated platforms on the stage different. No, like, actually progressively different.

“Cabaret becomes so much more than a building in this production, from the minute you walk in you are an aspect of the show,” says Megan Lako, who plays Jenny.

At first, it made me uneasy. Cabaret, the one place I’ve ever felt safe in my life, was suddenly changed at the moment I was to confront such dense and complex questions. I found myself bitter; no, angry; no, outraged that director Krystina Matos would upend my delicate sense of security.

“I think my vision for this show is exactly what a blackbox is for - it's haunting, overexposed, and jarring. It's also unexpected, like you wouldn't think we could pull off a set like this - but we did it, and we did it well. I am really proud of our little blackbox and am so grateful for what it allowed me to accomplish. I love Cabaret Theatre, and I love the foundation it provides for things like Things to happen,” Krystina.

But I got over it. Everything was fine, better than fine, actually. The changes allowed me to see things in a whole new light. My entire perspective of life changed. I was awakened. It was profound. I finally discovered who I was—which The Shape of Things character I reflected.

This was no easy task, but someone who cares so much about you, my reader, I have taken upon myself the task of elaborating on my discoveries so that you might may understand yourself with ease and luxury, rather than experience my anguish. So, without further ado:

 Evelyn (Loretta) and Adam (Peter)

Evelyn (Loretta) and Adam (Peter)

            Evelyn

Pretentious artsy type because you get it and cannot understand why everybody else is such a freaking pleb. Has a lot of kinks involving public canoodling and probably BDSM. Probably a mommy/daddy issue (or two or three). Probably kisses the framed posters of Jackson Pollock and Ché Guevara on her wall before bed. The extremely polarizing one.

"She has no remorse in what she is doing to people, which is highly unsettling. The worst part is that she loves doing it. Her lack of concept makes her character great, but wholly evil," says Matthew Volpe, who plays Phillip.

So, lowkey kinda awful, but possibly misunderstood. Heart is in the right place, but somehow manages to go about every situation in a totally rude and abrasive way. Motivated by change and do not care about the people you bother when you do so. Analytic and amoral because who has time for ethics when you’re trying to be a revolutionary?

“Evelyn is such a strong female character but not in the sense of dynamics -- more like actually strong. She's dedicated, clever, bold, and scrupulous about things she cares about. No one gets away with telling her no. She has tough skin and always knows what she wants, which I really admire,” says director Krystina Matos.

Are you an Evelyn?

 Adam (Peter) and Jenny (Megan)

Adam (Peter) and Jenny (Megan)

            Adam

The highkey kinda awkward one. But in, like—no you’re just really awkward. Obedient and susceptible to manipulation, but are optimistic that there’s a silver lining to all of it—which there seems to be.

“Adam is awkward, sarcastic, nerdy and an English lit major. He is self-aware but doesn't understand social cues. He is not conventionally attractive or appealing. He is definitely someone people would ignore, or would look at for the wrong reasons,” says Peter Toto, who plays Adam.

So loveable. PDA? More like PDlease stop I am uncomfortable. Like Josh from Drake and Josh, if Josh went to college and became an insecure English major instead of becoming a Vine star who clings to jokes made by a character he played when he was 20. 

“He is an old soul. He is constantly making references, especially about things that are not from his generation,” says Peter.

Are you an Adam?

 Jenny (Megan), Phillip (Matt), and Evelyn (Loretta)

Jenny (Megan), Phillip (Matt), and Evelyn (Loretta)

            Jenny

Prudish, proper, propitious (says my thesaurus for the word “kind). The girl next door type, for better or worse. Seemingly really, really happy, but you’ve probably got something dark going on inside of you. But you handle it well, I think (I hope).

“Jenny is your standard people pleaser and does not like conflict which is something I really connect to. Something I’ve really tried to focus on in bringing Jenny to life is her sense of curiosity and journey to learning how to put her happiness first,” says Megan.

The complete opposite of an Evelyn. Conventional and ordinary, but really seems like she wants to be more than that, while still being content with her normality? Makes you seem kind of zen, but you’re actually on the verge of self-destruction like most people who do yoga and claim their zen.

Are you a Jenny?

 Phillip (Matt) and Adam's back (Peter's back)

Phillip (Matt) and Adam's back (Peter's back)

            Phillip

The bold and crass one, but it’s all cool because you’re really pretty.

"In a word, loudmouth. The type of guy who is always right, and if he is wrong, he will never fold. Also, someone who is in complete love with themselves. He has to be the superior and if he feels he isn't, he will press his believes/attitudes on you," says Matthew Volpe, who plays Phillip.

Everybody wants to dislike you for it, but you’re so charming it causes people to have these really mixed feelings about you, which ultimately is just their mind attempting to suppress their strong feelings about you.

“Phillip is the character that you absolutely love to hate. He's abrasive and unapologetic and so cool. We all know someone like him, and we all feel that attraction but repulsion and it's so strong and wrong but it feels so right, you know?” says Krystina.

On top of it, a pretty good, true friend, which is weird considering you’re so pretty and whatnot. God, I wish I was a Phillip.

Are you a Phillip? 

 Dumbfounded or confused???

Dumbfounded or confused???

Well, you’re welcome. Now when you go see The Shape of Things, which opens Thursday, March 1 and runs until Sunday, March 4, with tickets available through the event page at: http://bit.ly/2FGfGDd, you’ll be able to more easily figure out your Shape shape.

“Everyone’s characters and relationships are relatable in some way and every night I’m discovering something new about them, it’s really amazing,” says Megan.

And yet, if you come and still fail to identify with anybody (doubtful), you can rest assured:

“The way Krystina masterfully changed it will definitely be a huge shock for the returning visitors. I’m so glad that this is my first show at Cabaret because it is so different, and I can’t imagine working in the space as it usually is. It will definitely be an experience for the audience,” says Peter.

 

Photo Credits: Paolo Arceo