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Boulevard's Satisfying 'Circle Mirror Transformation'

Theater Review

Aug. 24, 2011
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Annie Baker's comic-drama Circle Mirror Transformation makes its local debut with the Boulevard Theatre this month. The plot follows a five-member ensemble through a series of isolated scenes at a community-center acting class. Kate Sherry plays the instructor leading a class that includes a talented actress (Beth Monhollen), a high-school student (Christine Pollnow), a recently divorced gentleman (Michael Weber) and her own husband (Jaime Jastrab). Actors and characters ricochet off one another in and out of the classroom.

The class travels from beginning to end in concise packages of tiny moments. The lights rise and fall countless times. Some of the scenes work. Some of them don't. Some of the scenes are well scripted but poorly executed. Some of them are poorly scripted but well executed. For the most part, however, the script and cast work well together.

Director Mark Bucher valiantly holds it all together. Baker's script is written like a spoken-word choral piece, with silences and minor nuances explicitly defined. Bucher brings it to the stage with thoughtful precision.

Seeing a larger plot develop in episodic moments is a fun way to interface with a group of characters, but Baker's script doesn't delve too deep below the surface. It's a clever look at a fun group of people (portrayed by a fun group of actors), but great depth remains elusive in this otherwise satisfying trip to the theater.

The Boulevard Theatre's production of Circle Mirror Transformation runs through Sept. 4. To reserve tickets, call 414-744-5757.


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