REVIEW: Circle Mirror Transformation

The story in Circle Mirror Transformation is told through the drama games of a six-week community centre drama class the characters have signed up for. It’s through the games, and the breaks in between that their characters are revealed.

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What did you think? Were you able to relate to the characters in the play? What’s the silliest drama game you ever played? Tell us in the comments below.

Circle Mirror Transformation runs at the Great Canadian Theatre Company now through June 10th. Full details at

If you haven’t done so yet, find out more about Circle Mirror Transformation in our preview article. Hear the cast talk about the show, sample a scene, and learn a bit about the artwork curated specially for the play and on display in the Fritzi Gallery in the GCTC’s 2nd Floor lobby:

For lovers of the written word, here’s the script in print form:

Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation, is about five ordinary people in a small-town drama class. The story unfolds exclusively through the games and exercises they take part in as they get to know each other, making for great comedy as the characters awkwardly stumble through.

It’s not all fun and games, though. Each of the characters has a personal trauma or demon and the games they play bring all these problems to the surface, where they’re forced to confront them and as the title suggests, transformation abounds as they make some terrible realizations about each other and their lives.

The core of this play is the characters, who are all really likable and relatable, but theatre fans especially will get a kick out of them. And all the actors bring their A-game. Mary Ellis is so convincing as a drama teacher. John Koensgen’s performance as Marty’s husband, James, is sticky and kind of awkward, perfect for the character. Sarah McVie is the aspiring actress Theresa, who is just so very into it. Everything about her, from her poses to her gestures, is theatrical and she takes them all so seriously. When she’s asked to play a tree, her first question is - What kind of tree?

Andy Massingham gives us a forth strong character, playing the awkward and attention seeking Schultz, characterized by an unconfident stutter that fades and vanished as he becomes more confident throughout the play. And rounding out the excellent cast is Catherine Rainville giving a strong performance as the sullen teenager, Lauren. The most fun is watching her play along half-heartedly, only to scurry away afterwards to avoid embarrassing herself more but slowly staring to engage more with the others.

The beautiful set looks exactly like a real community centre and the many scene changes in Circle Mirror Transformation are quick and efficient making for a well paced show with a lot of, often awkward, laughs, heartfelt moments and strong performances. If you love the intricacies of the theatre world, you’ll especially love it.

Show producer: Allan Mackey
Reviewer: Kurt Shantz
Show produced by Valley Wind Productions for Production Ottawa
Photo in this article was taken by Andrew Alexander and is used here with permission from the Great Canadian Theatre Company

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Kurt Shantz

About Kurt Shantz

Kurt Shantz is a Theatre and Scriptwriting graduate and an occasional Should You See It reviewer. He currently works as a warehouse clerk, but has big aspirations of someday achieving his dream of becoming a senior warehouse clerk. He's also been known to write on occasion.

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What people are saying:

  1. Allan Mackey says:

    So to followup to Kurt’s excellent review: I thought Circle Mirror Transformation was light on story, but heavy on character and full of silly laughs that more than made up for it. CMT was very probably the most fun play I’ve been to since A Midwinter’s Dream Tale (also at GCTC). This was because it was obvious that the cast was having so much fun in the delivery of it.

    It was also one of the most voyeuristic feeling plays I’ve seen - which is to say that I felt like I was there watching real people play out their lives in this class (scene changes aside). Most good theatre can draw you into the world of what’s happening, but because they take place in a different time or, a different place, or have surreal elements, or whatever that one step removed is, very few achieve a feeling of true voyeurism. All five of the cast and their director deserve huge props for it.

    Also, the ending was really well done - and I can be a big critic of endings. I’m obviously not going to give it away here but the way it flowed and the way it was staged: super-great.

    Allan Mackey

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