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Circle Mirror Transformation

February 9, 2015
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CircleMirror1(picture courtesy of Pangdemonium!)

Event: Circle Mirror Transformation
Venue: DBS Arts Centre
Run: 29th Jan – 15th Feb 2015

Men in the Mirror

No, the above is not a shot of the cast in rehearsals.

It’s the actual set of Pangdemonium’s first play of the 2015 season entitled “Circle Mirror Transformation”, which is written by Annie Baker and chronicles the exploits of the four members of an acting class in Vermont over the course of six weeks, under the tutelage of the hippie-influenced Marty (played by Neo Swee Lin).

You have Adrian Pang playing the socially-awkward and recently-divorced carpenter Schultz, Nikki Muller playing an attractive but slightly disillusioned former-actress Theresa, Selma Alkaff playing reticent and moody high-school teen Lauren, and Daniel Jenkins playing Marty’s boisterous and eager-beaver husband James.

What starts off as a tentative first lesson eventually leads to a deeper revelation of each person’s personality and life story over the weeks, through a series of seemingly silly and pointless theatre games which Marty puts them through.

As the weeks progress, the members of the class find themselves unwittingly exposing more and more of their innermost emotions, which sometimes lead to less than desirable consequences.

Even the highly-reticent Lauren eventually starts to let her guard down and reveal more of herself to the group, while Schultz and Theresa find themselves being entangled in a rather complex relationship of sorts.

The cast is a fine one, with strong performances all-round, especially from Nikki Muller, who exudes an irresistible charm onstage, and Daniel Jenkins, who makes his role of James totally believable.

Selma Alkaff, who makes her professional debut in this production, looks perfectly comfortable up on stage and hardly seemed out of place when playing off the other four theatre heavyweights.

Where the production falters slightly is in the unconvincing and uneven American accents, which seems to be a recurring theme in Pangdemonium productions.

Also, it felt as it the play was merely a series of sketches and didn’t fully flesh out all its characters as much as I would have liked, and neither did it contain a fulfilling dramatic arc.

It didn’t seem as if the play was building to any discernible climax, and felt more like routine snapshots of an entire six-week course, one week at a time.

And while the play ends on a rather melancholic note, thanks to the sheer energy and calibre of the cast “Circle Mirror Transformation” remains a largely entertaining and exhilarating behind-the-scenes romp through what many real-life thespians go through in order to hone their craft, and shows us that behind the sometimes wacky veneer that we all put on lies a very human desire in all of us, and that is the desire to love and be loved.

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