We fasterly secured Pangdemonium's 2015 season tickets and sorted out dates to its first show, playwright Annie Baker's 'Circle Mirror Transformation'. Annie Baker is known for her 'The Vermont Plays', 'The Aliens', and Pulitzer-winning 'The Flick', which are heavier and rather different from 'Circle Mirror Transformation', which is firmly seated in the genre of comedy. Always interesting to see how Pangdemonium interprets a script. (View trailer here.)
Set in a windowless studio of a community center in the fictional town of Shirley, Vermont, four aspiring actors join a six-week acting class led by Earth Mother Neo Swee Lin who plays Marty. The quirky characters in the acting class are played by Nikki Muller (Theresa), Adrian Pang (Shultz), Selma Alkaff (Lauren) and Daniel Jenkins (James). Slowly the layers peeled away to reveal the characters' innermost thoughts through the games played during the classes. Mid-way, 16-year-old Lauren questioned the point of these 'games'. "When are we going to be doing any real acting?" The audience did too. After a while, by Week Four, we understood why. These classes felt more like group therapy sessions for...I dunno...recovering....[insert choice addictive habit]. The romantic entanglements the script laid out were predictable and tedious. If those are supposed to drive home the point of human connections, it flew right over my cynical head.
As Life! arts correspondent Corrie Tan concluded in her review, "A single show - or theatre exercise - may not change our lives, but it certainly makes you take a good hard look in the mirror, that you might circle back one day and find yourself transformed."
The ending was nicely done. I certainly didn't want to think deeper about the play. It was enjoyable and hilarious at many moments. That was enough. All of us, carry our own crosses. "Do you ever wonder how many times your life is going to end?" Many of us can't be who we want to be. Sometimes, when we become what we wanted to be, we no longer want it. I haven't watched other versions of this play. Dunno if the songs at the ending are the same. Can't imagine the licensing issues and nightmares if the song for this script is fixed. For this production, Pangdemonium picked Ben Folds' 'Still'. :) VERY VERY NICE!
But it's only change
It's only everything I know
Even the things that seem still are still changing
lada lada ladadadadada lada ladadadadadada x 3
I stay focused on the details
It keeps me from feeling the big things
But watch the microscope long enough
things that seem still are still changing