Wednesday January 24th 2018

“Circle Mirror Transformation”

CMT-Logo1-400Somewhat Recommended ** Let me preface this review by stating that I love Redtwist Theatre and the work they have been doing over the years. When I enter the “storefront” located at  1044 West Bryn Mawr, I anticipate coming out with an experience that I will remember. Today was not the perfect day. Annie Baker’s “Circle Mirror Transformation” just was not the right script for the talented actors that took the stage. I am not sure where Ms Baker was headed when the play was written and while I know she is a Pulitzer Prize-winner, this play (110 minutes with no intermission) reminded me more of a sales meeting exercise that anything else.

The premise of the story is that  four people of different ages and backgrounds have enrolled in an acting class. The class is taught by Marty (Lynda Shadrake) in a community center field house (I think). Her husband, James ( one of my favorite Chicago character actors, Adam Bitterman does a great job) is a member of the class. The other members of the class, Theresa (the lovely Emily Tate), a recent transplantee, who also just became “single”,  Lauren (  deftly handled by Talia Payomo), a teen-ager who truly wants to be an actress and Schultz ( powerfully played by Michael Sherwin), a recently divorced local.CMT2-web

We watch for six weeks (the almost two hours covers six weeks of getting to know these characters and their lives) as the details of each character’s life comes to the floor, either during an exercise or between them. We learn that Theresa broke up with her boyfriend because he was too demanding and while in the class, she finds herself dating and being with Schultz, only to see that he is not right for her either.  Marty is a second spouse for James, who has a daughter from his first that will not speak to him. Lauren has problems at home, and wants to be an actress, but complains that the class is not what she had hoped.CMT5-web

The six weeks that we experience with these characters is more like a week-end retreat that a company might have where they act out with each other to get to know and understand each other better. Many years ago, when I was with a majorCMT3-web corporation, they brought in people or took us to a resort to do this. They always said the purpose was bonding and so that we would have a better team. Despite it not being the best way for actors to learn their craft, it did allow each of the characters to review the others and get into their heads, but even with solid direction by Scott Weinstein, I found the script to be lacking.Yes, we do see each character change, but not the actual transformation that they had signed up for. They do see themselves “reflected” thru others, but do they get what they were seeking? For that matter, do we?

The technical aspects of the show are pretty simple; a set designed by Elyse Balogh , that resembles a dance studio with places for shoes, back-packs and lockers. Daniel Friedman’s lighting was done to perfection and the sounds and projections by Karli Blalock worked. Even the simplistic costumes by Kotryna Hilko and the props assembled by Parker Blackston Ryan were well done. To be honest, I felt that as a production, all the ingredients were as they should have been. Perhaps, it was the recipe that spoiled the meal!

“Circle Mirror Transformation” will continue at Redtwist Theatre located at 1044 Wes Bryn Mawr thru May 14th with performances as follows:

CMT9-webThursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  7:30 p.m.

Sundays   3:00 p.m.

Tickets are $30-$35 (seniors and students save $5) and can be purchased at 773-728-7529 or online at

FYI- On May 9th, the understudies will take the stage

For those of you unfamiliar with Redtwist, it is a very intimate space (I think 39 seats for this one). Parking in the area can be rough, but they do have street metered spaces (meters are not valid on Sundays) and for evening performances  Francesca’s Bryn Mawr is available- I think they have a dinner deal if you mention you are going to the play (they have a wonderful menu).redtwist

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Circle Mirror Transformation”

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