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Mirror marred by superficial reflection

Acclaimed American playwright has a long way to go

Circle Mirror Transformation

At the Arts Club Granville Island Stage until Oct. 22

Tickets: 604-687-1644, artsclub.com

Circle Mirror Transformation is so thin if it turned sideways it would disappear. Dont blame director Nicola Cavendish or her dedicated cast of five for this disappointing show. The plays the thing and this one, by (then) 28-year-old American writer Annie Baker, is slight in spite of winning an Obie in 2009 for Best New American Play. By her own admission, Baker has yetaccording to the program notesto write a great play. This one doesnt even have a title you can remember.

The setting is a community centre where a small group of adults have gathered for an acting class. Marty (Donna White) leads the class, but what qualifies her is unclear. Shes kindly. Because the class is so small, it appears Marty has recruited her husband James (Alex Diakun). Hes uninspired. Schultz (Brian Linds) is there to get over a recent divorce. Hes needy. Theresa (Anita Wittenberg) has done some acting but recognizes shes not a major talent. Shes conflicted. My favourite character is Lauren (Emilee-Juliette Glyn-Jones) who actually wants to learn to act and is frustrated by all the game-playing. She does some growing up over the six-week course.

Its all very predictable as they go through various goofy acting exercises of the you be me and Ill be you variety. More like group therapy.

The centerpiece of David Roberts set is a one-way mirror that, during breaks, we can see the characters coming and going and drinking water as if they were coming out of a hot yoga session.

Apart from some good work and an introduction to newcomer Glyn-Jones, the best that can be said of Circle Mirror Transformation is that its as innocuous as a sit-comits nearest relative.

joled@telus.net