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The Shape of Things

Warning: The New York State Writers Institute’s screening of Neil LaBute’s film The Shape of Things is not first-date appropriate—unless you’re far, far, far braver than we. This is no insult to LaBute himself, of whom The New Yorker’s John Lahr has said, “There is no playwright on the planet these days who is writing better than Neil LaBute.” It’s just that LaBute’s work—as playwright, screenwriter, director and author—paints relationships as, well, mostly hell.

>From his first film, The Company of Men, LaBute has been controversial. That film was pilloried—as much as it was praised—for its unflinching depiction of the brutality and exploitation that can inform romantic/sexual attraction. In it, two male coworkers set out to systematically humiliate a female associate as revenge against womankind in general. The film made women’s groups irate, made audiences squirm and made Roger Ebert comment: “In the Company of Men is the kind of bold, uncompromising film that insists on being thought about afterward—talked about, argued about, hated if necessary, but not ignored.”

LaBute hasn’t let up since. His latest film, The Shape of Things (an adaptation of his play of the same name), turns the tables somewhat by depicting the near-literal rebuilding of an awkward young man by a woman whose motives are highly questionable. It has been described as “a terrifying parable about modern love and art.”

The Shape of Things will be screened at Page Hall (135 Western Ave., Albany) tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 22). The 7 PM show is free, and will be followed by commentary by screenwriter and director Neil LaBute. For more information, call 442-5620.

The Tragically Hip

Maybe it’s because they’re Canadian.

Whether they actually are or not, Canadians just seem nicer. And the Tragically Hip just seem like nice guys. Since they first got together back in 1987, the Hip have released album after album of engaging (forgive us for using this term) modern rock. Though the Hipsters never broke through to so-called superstardom, their dogged touring and energetic live shows—the Village Voice once mentioned them in the same breath as Springsteen—have earned them a ferociously loyal following.

Did we mention they’re nice?

Brit imports (and recent Tonight Show guests) the Sam Roberts Band are gaining a rep for playing catchy, traditional pop rock. Don’t take our word for it. Dig these déjà vu-inducing sample song titles: “Don’t Walk Away Eileen” and “Where Have All the Good People Gone?”

The Tragically Hip and Sam Roberts Band will perform tonight (Thursday, Oct. 21) at 7:30 PM at Northern Lights (Route 146, Clifton Park). Tickets are $20. For more info, call 371-0012.

Dining With Demons and a Little Ham

By definition, the Albany-based playwrights who comprise the League of Justice spend much of their time huddled over keyboards, pecking away far from the footlights. The group, formed in 2001, meet to present and critique scripts, offering up support and advice, and then it’s back to work. But there comes a time when the reaction most needed is that of a real-life audience, and it’s time to get the play off the paper and onto the stage, where the whole shebang will ultimately stand or fall.

That time has come: Tonight and tomorrow (Thursday and Friday), the League of Justice will present an evening of five one-act plays under the general title Dining With Demons and a Little Ham. The plays range in style and tone, from the nostalgic to the darkly comic, from character-driven drama to “mini-musical,” and feature both newcomers to the area stage and longtime vets. Playwrights include Veno Jeffrey Anderson, Sandi Dollinger, David Irving, Marty Manjak and Amanda Stankavich.

Dining With Demons and a Little Ham will be presented tonight and tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 21, and Friday, Oct. 22), at 8 PM at the First Congregational Church (405 Quail St., Albany). The suggested donation for the pay-what-you-will shows is $5. For more information, call 462-2905.


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