Theatre | A mirror up to nature

REFLECTIVE: As Circle Mirror Transformation progresses we are drawn deeper into the intimate lives and emotions of the individual characters.
REFLECTIVE: As Circle Mirror Transformation progresses we are drawn deeper into the intimate lives and emotions of the individual characters.

A play called Circle Mirror Transformation might appear an unlikely candidate for audience and reviewer acclaim, but American writer Annie Baker’s play has been a hit since it premiered in New York in 2009.

The title is the name of an exercise done by people in acting courses and often used as a warm-up game. Participants stand in a circle with one making a motion and corresponding sound that the others mirror. The unity ends when another player introduces a new movement and sound that the others gradually take up.

Annie Baker set the play at weekly sessions of an acting course that runs for six weeks, with the lifestyles, emotions and relationships of the teacher and participants increasingly revealed in their workshop games.

Newcastle theatre company The Lowbrow Outfit is presenting Circle Mirror Transformation at Adamstown Theatre on Brunker, for six performances between September 14 and 22. 

The cast includes Jan Hunt, Phil McGrath, Elise Martin, Maisie Owens and Tony De Wit, with Tony’s daughter, Charlotte, directing.  

This is Tony De Wit’s theatre stage debut. 

Charlotte has found the play to be as naturalistic as film scripts, with a lot packed into the interval-free, 100-minute running time.

“There are 30 scenes, with an average of five in each of the six-week classes,” she said.

“It’s a very unique work, and very gentle in its treatment of the characters. And anyone who has been involved in drama classes in Newcastle will be taken back to their experiences.”

Phil McGrath sees the characters as very down to earth. Jan Hunt plays Marty, the teacher of the acting classes. She has had problems recruiting class members, so her husband, James (Tony De Wit)  is drawn into the weekly settings.

As the classes progress, problems in their relationship grow.

McGrath’s character, Schultz, is a recently-divorced carpenter, and he has been bruised by past relationships. He is drawn to Theresa (Elise Martin), an attractive actress who has just quit her job in capital city productions.

The other class member is Lauren (Maisie Owens), a 16-year-old who has enrolled in the classes because she hopes the training skills will help her to win the leading female role in her high school production of West Side Story.

Circle Mirror Transformation is not part of the Theatre on Brunker meal and show productions. It has 8pm shows nightly from September 14 to 15, then September 20 to 22, and a 6pm Sunday show on September 16. The performances are at St. Stephen’s Hall, Adamstown. Tickets: $23, concession $20. Bookings on 4956 1263