Circle Mirror Transformation
By Annie Baker
HOME, 14 March 2018
Acting is authenticity.
We are looking at an acting class run by Marty (Amelia Bullmore) with help from her partner James (Anthony Ofoegbu). There are three students: Teresa (Sian Clifford), a city girl susceptible to flattery; Schultz (Con O’Neill), a carpenter quick to appreciate others’ efforts and Lauren (Yasmin Paige), an adolescent who aspires to be a proper, professional actress. The class takes place over several weeks, each session involving exercises that explore different aspects of the participant’s lives. They tell their and each other’s stories, take on the roles of each other’s parents. Play parlour games, which yet reveal their personalities. And that’s what the play is about – or what I took away from it anyway.
These people are well hidden when they are all together, playing the comfortable role of teacher or student. They navigate the people around them and defer to social norms, with all the compromise, falseness and elision of self, the blurring of intention and meaning, that everyday life involves. True, when we see them in twos and threes, before or after each class, we get some genuine inkling of what is going on in their lives. But it is in the activities of the class itself, the hatchet intensity of feral emotions at play, that their defences are down and their inner life is most revealed. Acting is authenticity.
A fine play and I very much relished the nimble, sprightly performances.
Circle Mirror Transformation is at HOME for only a little while more. Details here.