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CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION

 Left to right: Lauren ( Yasmin Paige ), Theresa ( Sian Clifford ), James ( Anthony Ofoegbu  ), Marty ( Amelia Bullmore ) and Schultz ( Con O’Neill  ) in   Circle Mirror Transformation   by  Annie Baker  performed at HOME Manchester (2 - 17 Mar 2018) || Photo by Marc Brenner - courtesy of HOME

Left to right: Lauren (Yasmin Paige), Theresa (Sian Clifford), James (Anthony Ofoegbu ), Marty (Amelia Bullmore) and Schultz (Con O’Neill ) in Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker performed at HOME Manchester (2 - 17 Mar 2018) || Photo by Marc Brenner - courtesy of HOME

In a rather forgiving rehearsal space in a community centre in Vermont, New England award-winning playwright Annie Baker places a mismatched group of five characters in an adult creative drama class that allows their true selves to organically bloom on stage through a series of provocative albeit goofy exercises. This award-wining play Circle Mirror Transformation*, under the direction of Bijan Sheibani (Barber Shop Chronicles, National Theatre), is performed on a stage at HOME (2nd - 17th Mar 18) for all to see.

 Marty ( Amelia Bullmore ) and James ( Anthony Ofoegbu ) in    Circle Mirror Transformation   by  Annie Baker  performed at HOME Manchester (2 - 17 Mar 2018) || Photo by Marc Brenner - courtesy of HOME

Marty (Amelia Bullmore) and James (Anthony Ofoegbu) in  Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker performed at HOME Manchester (2 - 17 Mar 2018) || Photo by Marc Brenner - courtesy of HOME

It is in the artful depiction of little everyday moments, awkward silences and naturalistic dialogue that this play shines; this is, in part, down to the cast’s stellar performances. Amelia Bullmore (Happy Valley) stars as spirited drama teacher Marty, alongside Anthony Ofoegbu (Spooks) as Marty’s soft-spoken husband; Con O’Neill (Cucumber) as recently divorced chair-maker, Shultz; Sian Clifford (Fleabag) as outspoken actress, Teresa; and Yasmin Paige (Submarine) as Lauren, a shy but competitive teenager. Over the course of the 6-week class, the characters’ backstories  are unravelled through a simple but unconventional way which is at times quite entertaining.

 Lauren ( Yasmin Paige ) in   Circle Mirror Transformation   by  Annie Baker  performed at HOME Manchester (2 - 17 Mar 2018) || Photo by Marc Brenner - courtesy of HOME

Lauren (Yasmin Paige) in Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker performed at HOME Manchester (2 - 17 Mar 2018) || Photo by Marc Brenner - courtesy of HOME

Riddled with weighted silences, this play honours the power of nuance and realism in a way that punctuates classroom theatrics with revealing subtleties. And the time-worn and earth-hued rehearsal space, designed by Samal Blak, invites the audience to see their own reflections in more ways than one - the sixth tacit character if you will.  

 

*I was invited to review this theatre performance at HOME, however, all views are my own :)