New Century Theatre, Northampton, MA
through June 23, 2012
by K.J. Rogowski
New Century Theatre’s production of Annie Baker’s “Circle Mirror Transformation” is a play that, for a number of reasons, leaves you hoping for/wanting more. It is incomplete due to both the script and the presentation.
The play itself is a series of vignettes about average folks taking a six week acting class. The difficulty for the audience is…too many vignettes, which start in a direction, developing a thought or character, and then trail off. Others are just very short, mundane exchanges, and when punctuated by the many blackouts needed to make scene changes, leave audience members trying to remember how this play is intended to hold together, and hold interest. The impact is that it is then difficult to warm up to, or indeed really care about the characters. Yes, they each have problems and issues, and the cast does a credible job, and there are a few brief moments of tension, and a few laughs, but the production does not rise to the accolades given it for either humor or self-discovery.
The circle concept is reflected in the curved walls, and the circle floor design, and there are a set of floor to ceiling mirror doors, but they do not play a role in moving the action. The final scene transitions from an acting exercise in the last class at the local community center to some time in the future, as two of the characters meet and talk of where they are now and what’s happened. But as presented, they are the same people. They have moved on, but there has been no transformation.