The Shape of Things

I was listening to the Prodigy’s first album from 1992 and running late to Free Rain’s The Shape of Things at the Courtyard Studio and sprinting down towards the theatre and my headphones telling me
I got the beat I got the beat and that’s
all we need

Which you probably don’t think is that clever but I think it’s fucking on the money and with that difference between us in mind, I can say that you probably really enjoyed or would enjoy The Shape of Things but it made me angry. This is a production directed by Soren Jensen, one of the murderers behind Nineteenth Hole Productions, which kicked into life in the same filthy month in 2001 that Bohemian Productions was born, which makes him as close to a contemporary of mine as anyone else in this world, produced under the aegis of Free Rain. The Shape of Things, written by some yankee named Neil Labute, follows two relationships between four university students in some small town until both the relationships stop, by which time I was ready to find LaBute and punch him in the mouth.

What’s wrong with the script? Well I didn’t realise this until afterwards, but the two main characters are named Adam and Evelyn. Intriguing, isn’t it? What do you suppose that symbolises? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it symbolises absolutely fucking nothing, that LaBute put it in the script because he wanted to appear clever, and that same vapid smugness infuses essentially all of the script. Which is, without ruining the plot, a series of dialogue driven encounters in such wild and diverse locations as: a restaurant, a cafe, a pub, and somewhere which didn’t appear to serve drinks but had a table and chair and was probably a park bench. In most of the scenes, a friendly and casual exchange built up into an emotion driven outburst, occasionally with raised voices, possibly punctuated by a pause or two.*

So far it would seem that I am essentially criticising this play on the basis that it is a play, but of course this basic palette can be twisted and stretched into quite wonderful shapes. LaBute’s difficulty in transcending the most basic staples of his form seemed to lie in the fact that he had literally no ideas. It’s almost a miracle in itself how a full-length script can manage to carefully swerve around any semblance of a point, unless the point was meant to be that it’s mean to ruin someone else’s life for no reason.

The Shape of Things cast


on the plane just then I decided to try devising the worst book in the world. I decided to mix and match elements of other books I’ve hated, genres that repel me, and then imagine that the hypothetical author is a complete arsehole as well. The blurb will look like this:


Sister Nina Grieves’ spirited autobiographical novel is the life-affirming story of a wild party-girl socialite come face to face with the rigours of life in a Nunnery. From the traumas of rising before 10am and foregoing soy-chai-lattes, to the trials of a life with no mobile phone, no champagne, no facials and no men*, Sister Nina wittily shows what it really means to submit to the rule of God. DOES MY SOUL LOOK BIG IN THIS? will make you laugh, make you cry, and most of all, make you re-evaluate your relationship with the Lord.

Grieve’s transition from a wildcard debutante into a devoted Bride of Christ is a crackling read… Sister Nina is a spunky and admirable heroine, and her witty depictions of cloistered life seen through the eyes of an admitted “Sex in the City addict” provide plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as the reader follows Nina’s journey of spiritual growth. Glamorous, down-to-earth and out-of-this-world, all at once!
Laura Billerbeck, Cosmopolitan

*with one important exception.**

I am now going to look up “Does my soul look big in this” on Google and see how many chumps have not only already had this idea, but written books about it.


petrol station play

While I really doubt I’ll ever create a sequel to Vampire Play that anyone else would consider to be a sequel, I do enjoy playing around with the characters and setting somewhat. This fragment is from the Petrol Station Play I have been scribbling at, which locates crippled century-old vampire Manson Lane with brutally ignorant undead teen bitch George Bekken in a petrol station on the north side of the Cancers, using the shop to ambush late-night petrol buyers…

bekken: So, how many kilos do you weigh right now?

manson: Forty five.

bekken: That’s not very heavy.

manson: Yes, it’s an interesting effect of vampiric physiology. The bone density…

bekken: I mean because I’m concerned about you, that’s why I asked. I care about you.

manson: Are you trying to tell me that I’m underweight? If you listen to me, I’m explaining –

bekken: I mean if you’re battling with something, you’ve got to be able to talk about it. You can’t fight this stuff alone.

manson: Bekken, you don’t know a single thing about anything. You have no knowledge on any topic.

bekken: I know there’s nothing funny about bulimia. If you’re rushing to the toilet and sicking up every time you drink blood, of course you’re going to be tired and irritable.

manson: What is it about you that reminds of a hyena?

bekken: What you need to realise, Manson, is that you’re beautiful just as you are. You don’t need to be thin to be pretty. You have a very kind face and there’s lots of people who’ll love you for who you are.

manson: What you need to realise is that your usefulness to me has nearly run out, and this should worry you.

Manson Lane (Jack Lloyd) and George Bekken (Gina Guirguis) in Bohemian’s 2004 production of Vampire Play. Photo by ‘pling.

solar system play – sample

(this is a grab from solar system play, which is an unfinished fragmentary work in progress set in orbit around the sun. (heads up: the sun is horrible. the sun is an absolute monster, and it forces Mercury to scrape it clean every few hours and it never says thank you.)

image by frosty

unreal shapes lucky simple planet
huge excited planet
but lucky simple planet
tripping over in its orbit
running in circles like a house with chicken legs.
with nasty comets like witches on broomsticks floating in the huge black space on all sides.

every so often a comet will swoop into earth’s orbit and its long tongue will snake out like a wire
down through the north pole and into the core
the comets guzzling themselves on the molten rock
then swerving back into the dark full of heat

and mars off in the distance
lurching in huge mad leaps through its orbit
occasionally turning its face to you and screaming
smashing its face with its long skinny arms
mars is a ridiculous person to have to deal with

mars: Let’s go kick empty cans in the park!
earth: No.
mars: Why don’t you want to go to the park and kick things? Let’s do it! The more you say you don’t want to do it, the more we should do it!
earth: No. That doesn’t make sense.
mars: No! No it doesn’t! I know it doesn’t!

the moon never talks
unless you talk to it

Earth: How much do I weigh this morning?
Moon: Number number number number number.
Earth: That’s not a number.
Moon: That’s not a number.
Earth: How many chairs do you steal?
Moon: All the chairs.
Earth: There are no chairs! It was a joke!
Moon: All the chairs are there are no chairs.
Earth: You are the worst person to talk with.

venus talks its own ridiculous language.

Venus: Im a in hettup im hettup im hettup im hettup im im
tab im. tab im. tab im. tab im. tab im. tab im. tab
tab uh
tab uh
tab uh. uh. uh. uh. uh. uh. uh. uh. uh. uh. uh.
Earth: Yes.
Venus: Sorry chai? chai? Can I get you any tea?
Earth: You can’t get me any tea.
Venus: Tea? Tea? Whining about tea! Whining? Whining? Whining about tea! Like a lamp-dog in the mildew nights!

image by frosty

(and so on, I imagine – until the earth tries to escape from its orbit, and the piece becomes an escape-story, like those WWII POW camp films, or the movies about people in Alcatraz. what I’m wondering is: how the hell is the earth going to sneak past the four outer planets? Jupiter might be the biggest and scariest, but after Jupiter there’s Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and they’re all pretty terrifying to my mind.)

One thing that intrigues me is how a person (like say you) might come to be reading these words in the first place. What unhealthy internet habits have led you to this particular scrap of the world wide web? Compulsively following links from those one or two other pages in the internet universe that point here? Being misdirected here while searching on Google for something more pertinent to your interests?

I have some very basic statistics for this page, which suggests that visitors to this website are split about 50/50 between people who’ve been linked here and people directed here from search engines. The best thing is that Google can show you what search terms people typed that brought up my page. Reading through them, it makes me glad to think that my website caters to people with such diverse needs and interests as:

vampire gang warfare
“make you into medicine!”
“toaster in bath” suicide
egyptian grunge
“chaos theory” in jurassic park
jeff goldblum wearing black chaos
jurassic park raptor steak
why do I still belong to my company?
books about finnigan’s chin
finn finnigan the detective
none of us is going anywhere, said dr grant
how to kill a snapping turtle
diorrhea in dogs, drugs
the jellyfish-woman

and my easy favourite:

children smell repulsive to witches

It is a comforting thought for me that someone in the world needed to find out more information on the topic of children smelling repulsive to witches, and that Google (in its wisdom) suggested this site as a haven of knowledge on the topic.