Je n'aime pas dans les vieux films américains quand les conducteurs ne regardent pas la route. Et de ratage en ratage, on s'habitue à ne jamais dépasser le stade du brouillon. La vie n'est que l'interminable répétition d'une représentation qui n'aura jamais lieu.

Circle Mirror Transformation (2009) - Annie Baker

This is a really wonderful play that’s structured around an acting class and the five diverse characters who find themselves there.  The entire play takes place during acting exercises and the dynamic of that gives the play a weird energy.  I like the fact that it really pulls back the curtain, no pun intended, to let audience members see the strange theater games and improv exercises and such that are typically pretty inside baseball for actors and performers.  The five characters are all really well written and Baker finds really fascinating ways for their personal lives to spill over into the acting class.  There’s a great scene where two of the characters are performing an improvised scene that is supposed to represent the parents of one of the other characters; but as they’re performing and improvising as those characters, suddenly the relationship between those two characters starts to inform their performances and some uncomfortable truths are revealed.  Uncomfortable is a good word to describe the play really.  There’s a lot of awkward, kind of cringy comedy.  Baker has scripted in pauses and given approximate durations for those pauses, so that, for instance, a couple of characters who are feeling romantic attraction for each other just kind of stand in an awkward silence for ten or fifteen seconds, which doesn’t sound like much, but on stage is an eternity.  Baker has captured the ebb and flow of awkward conversations to perfection.  But as funny as the play is and as much as she pokes fun at the flaws of the characters, Baker finds a way to bring them to full human life and, even as you’re laughing at something or cringing at something, you’re also connecting with them and feeling with them and for them.  The ending really kicks things up a notch and it achieves the kind of cosmic significance that only the best theater can.  It’s a great, great play, one I’d really love to perform in one day.  4 stars.

tl;dr – lo-fi play is structured around five characters in an acting class; cringy, hilarious, awkward and ultimately surprisingly moving.  4 stars. 

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