Plays about theater people always run the risk of being too meta for their own good—a big inside-joke party that may end up being far more fun for the performers than for the audience. Playwright Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation takes that basic context and attempts to make something insightful about why grown-ups play pretend in the first place.
Marty is a woman teaching an adult drama class in Vermont, and her students are an odd bunch indeed. There’s Marty’s own husband, James; Theresa, who tried and failed to be a New York actress; Schultz, who’s recovering from a recent divorce; and Lauren, a teenager who has already mapped out her path to fame. They each have different reasons for being in the class, and the experience becomes as much about discovering themselves as about discovering how to act. Or maybe it’s about the nobility of something as absurd as grown-ups playing pretend.