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The Spotlight: The secrets scene in 'Circle Mirror Transformation' at South Coast Repertory

January 24, 2011 |  3:30 pm

Secrets, those emotional IEDs, detonate in irrevocable ways in South Coast Repertory’s “Circle Mirror Transformation,” Annie Baker's innovative dramedy about an acting class taught in a small Vermont town. Forget learning monologues from “The Crucible” — Marty (Linda Gehringer) wants her four students to open up, listen and, above all, communicate. But is she really ready to hear what they’ll say? 

Late in the play, Marty gathers her creative drama group into a circle. CirclePhoto “I want you to write a down a secret you’ve never, ever told anyone,” she instructs. “The first big thing that comes into your mind. Even if it’s scary.” Each person writes something down, anonymously. Marty collects the slips of paper, then redistributes them. “What if you pick your own?” asks Schultz (Arye Gross), reaching gingerly for a folded note. “Just read it anyway,” says Marty. “We won’t know.” 

But in a group this intimate, how hard will it be to guess who wrote what? As the secrets are read aloud, you can feel the audience reacting along with the class members: Everyone silently assigning authorship to a secret, silently reacting to each bomb that’s just been dropped. In that moment, we too become members of Marty’s class.

-- Charlotte Stoudt

At South Coast Repertory through Jan. 30. Read Charles McNulty's review here.

Photo: From left, Brian Kerwin, Arye Gross, Linda Gehringer, Lily Holleman and Marin Hinkle in "Circle Mirror Transformation." Credit: Scott Brinegar/South Coast Repertory.