It’s a rarity in modern theatre to find characters that are so intrinsically human that the audience truly cares for them. The Melbourne Theatre Company’s latest production from acclaimed writer Annie Baker is an all too brief glimpse into the pain, the pleasure, the hope and the despair of what it is to be alive.
Set in a community centre, four people come together to participate in a six-week acting course. Joined by their teacher Marty (Deidre Rubenstein), they begin a journey of self discovery through the standard theatre sports taught in acting classes all over the world.
From counting to ten to behaving like a tree, these exercises reveal the inner desires, regrets and turmoil of the class as they each confront each other and themselves. The ridiculous acts the students perform highlight the artificial world society has created. Marty demonstrates that these exercises are a method of breaking the barrier between real and make-believe.
The eclectic group of students range from the recently divorced Schultz (Ben Grant), self-hating professional actress Theresa (Kate Cole), 16 year-old school girl Lauren (Brigid Gallacher), and the obliging husband of Marty, James (Roger Oakley).
As each character faces themselves in the mirror of the community centre, confesses their deepest secrets (anonymously), and reveals their many faults, their transformation is complete. For it is only through the knowing eyes of their peers that their true self is reflected back to them.
The final exercise is perhaps the most telling, set 10 years in the future, Shultz and Lauren meet to discuss where their lives have taken them, and the twists and turns they have encountered since that six-week course. It is the insight from the youngest member of the group Lauren (an old soul in a young body), which highlights the ability of perfect strangers to touch our lives for a moment and yet leave a lasting impression.
Melbourne Theatre Company presents
Circle Mirror Transformation
by Annie Baker
Director Aidan Fennessy
Venue: The MTC Theatre, Lawler Studio | 140 Southbank Blvd Southbank, VIC
Dates: August 17 – September 17, 2011
Tickets: from $35 (Under 30’s $25)
Bookings: MTC Theatre Box Office (03)8688 0800 | mtc.com.au