Circle Mirror Transformation – A Weird Name for an Enjoyable Play (13 cents)

The Studio Theatre recently announced that Annie Baker’s “Circle Mirror Transformation” has been extended through the end of October. A strong cast led by Jennifer Mendenhall and directed by the theatre’s new artistic director, David Muse, provides a strong start to Studio’s 2010-2011 season.

The premise of the play is simple. A adult basic acting class is meeting for six weekly sessions in a small town in Vermont. The instructor is experienced in teaching acting to children; adult classes are new to her. And it shows.

It’s a small class, two men (one of whom is instructor’s husband) and two women (one of whom is a shy, 16 year old high school student). The actors are not taught the trade through reading scripts or reciting established monologues, but through playing games, games to open them up, to enable them to lose their inhibitions, to go beyond themselves.

You watch portions of each of the six classes. You see not only their increasing comfort/discomfort with the class, but learn about their lives outside of the class, and the tangle of relationships that develop (and unravel) between them during the summer.

Yes, this is a show about acting instruction, about group dynamics, about human emotions. But mainly, in spite of the ticklish situations which present themselves, this show is fun, and you will walk out (as everyone seems to) with a smile on your face.

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