On Monday of this week, a Cultch-style showing of Neil Labute’s notorious play, The Shape of Things brought an audience of roughly 30 theatre freaks, fans, fanatics onto an emotional roller coaster. The show starred Julian Legere, Fairlith Harvey, Marissa Burton and Harrison MacDonald and was directed by Chelsey Stuyt. This complex love story brings it all the way back to the nostalgic 1990s era with its slang and upbeat music. With the costume designs almost copied off an episode of Friends and the set design set to mimic the simplistic mind of Regan himself, the play was true to its story. The era that Labute set his story in was perfectly indeed showcased in this brief rendition. But perhaps one thing that should’ve stayed in 90s is lack of diverse representation.
In this political atmosphere, the performance was missing the big elephant in the room: a person of color. Be it as it may, the degree of criticism I have concerning this topic is of the utmost caliber. Theatre is a form of artistic expression that often fosters our image of political ideologies, namely cultural diversification and its presentation of it through media. It is 2018, and although the performers were absolutely exquisite, I bring it upon the executive team to reevaluate the “ideal” characteristics of a love story. Is it only meant to be performed by Caucasians? In fact, I, having seen this play performed numerous times, begin to recall that there has never been any person of color casted for any of the play’s roles. However sharp and direct this critique might be, it is a reminder that theatre does not sit on the fence during a time of raging political movements. It is the base material through which artists can sculpt their understanding of their world.