REVIEW: Circle Mirror Transformation

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I’ve never taken an acting class, but I have a feeling several of the folks in the opening night audience of CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION have.  I know that several theatre educators were in attendance and watching them throughout the performance was an enjoyable bonus to this terrific production.

This one-hour-forty-five minute (with no intermission, so be prepared) play takes place during a six-week acting course at a community center.  “Marty” (Charlotte Booker), the enthusiastic teacher, is there as is her husband, “Jim” (Andrew May), who is trying his best to support her in this latest endeavor.  Recently divorced “Schultz” (Sam Gregory) is in the class, as is “Theresa” (Mattie Hawkinson), a “real actress” who just broke up with her boyfriend.

And then there’s “Lauren” (Ronete Levenson).

Lauren is a 16-year-old girl, shy and awkward but with big dreams.  She took this class so that she could be better prepared for her audition of the high school production of West Side Story.  Maria is her dream role, of course, but she’s anything but a Maria.

It’s an ensemble show, but in many ways this is Lauren’s story; but the others all learn something about themselves, too.

There are lots of short scenes, where Marty leads the class in those weird acting exercises that must exist somewhere.  There were knowing laughs of recognition from the actors in the seats.

I like this show very much.  It’s not without growth opportunities, but overall it’s very well done.  I especially enjoyed the work of Booker and Levenson, though you’d be hard pressed to find a weak link in this ensemble.

Director Wendy Goldberg has staged the show in the intimate Shelterhouse space in a way that gives the 3-sided audience something to look at and discover throughout the show, no matter where they are seated.  I was fortunate to be able to watch the final scene happen in the mirror on stage, which allowed me the full emotional impact of what was happening.  And I did get emotional.

Watching all five of these tremendously rich characters develop over the course of the play was rewarding.  Marty might be a bit much, but she – even if accidentally – helped everyone achieve something.

And the Playhouse has achieved another successful production. I recommend it.

CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION runs through May June 7th.  Click here for more information including tickets.

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