Last Friday night, I finally saw Circle Mirror Transformation, a play by Annie Baker, with my own eyes. This production was also my first time inside Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown Concert House, a venue that seemed to have some esteem and local renown – and was charmingly intimate inside (and walking distance from my new apartment).
I remain very impressed with Baker’s writing, and am eager to see her most recent piece, The Flick, produced somewhere as it begins to make the regional rounds. I will always remember her quote in a Boston Globe interview that her theatrical universe town of Shirley, Vermont, is “a cross between Amherst, Massachusetts, Putney, Vermont, and Bolinas, California” since I know two of those three towns very well and have a passing acquaintance with the other one.
The production had some nice moments, but suffered, in my opinion, from an overly leisurely running time. The story unfolded for two hours and five minutes, but when I looked up other productions, they had told the same tale in as much as 25 fewer minutes. I got a bad feeling when a non-verbal prologue became … prolonged, and that reminded me of how I often depend on the play – or any piece of entertainment, really – to hook me in (or keep my interest high) within the first 5-10 minutes of the show.
I was intrigued by several scenes in the play containing exercises I’d come across in my drama therapy coursework of 2009-11, with one scene featuring verbatim an infamous game known as “I Want It… You Can’t Have It”. Much of the plot seemed intended to be drama therapy in fictional action and more than just theatre games.
Did Baker intend for it to be that way? A Google search tells me that she did.
I wish I’d seen this play earlier! I may write more about that revelatory experience of seeing DT in action again.