Last week I took in the charming and funny Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker at Shadow Theatre. It's a very cool little piece that takes place over several weeks at an adult drama class. The structure was very familiar. I have taken AND taught those classes so for me it was a unique look in from the outside. The class is small, yet diverse, and though the participants come to learn drama and acting, the events of the weeks teach them all, including teacher Marty (Coralie Cairns), something very different. Each leaves changed, a new person, not so much from the exercises but from their interactions with each other.
I really enjoyed the evening. Theresa (Lora Brovold) is a luminous and reflective surface, seeking healing after a break up, and unintentionally wreaking havoc on the men in the class. They like seeing themselves through her eyes. Schultz (Declan O'Reilly), recovering from his own break-up,
tries to be what he needs to be in the mirror, but constantly tries too hard, failing to see what the reflection really is. James (Dave Brindle) and Marty (Cairns) are the perfect couple, until the mirror reflects the flaws they never really saw before. Lauren (Mikaela Cochran) is not there to learn about herself, but to learn to act, and she pushes against the irresistible path of change.
As an ensemble, the five actors are delightful. It's as though they have spent their rehearsal in their own drama class, doing trust exercises and sharing personal monologues. They work together as a well-oiled machine. Each finds the unique humour in playing their character and the situation. I know that some of the situations where more humorous to me because of my background in drama, but sometimes it's very nice to go to the theatre and see yourself and life reflected back at you. I understand why some of the exercises seem silly, but I also know what they are for, and as someone who has reinvented myself a few times in my life (I am a very different person now than I was 10 years ago), I could really relate to the theme of reflection and reinvention... Circle. Mirror. Transformation.