The last time we visited the vivid but, alas, still fictional college town of Shirley, Vt., a middle-aged lesbian couple, their autistic son and a visiting professional photographer were coming to grips with Body Awareness in a memorable production last season at Deep Dish Theater. Since that first opus, pensive playwright Annie Baker has revisited the village twice, racking up honors in the process as "one of the most promising new stage talents to emerge in the past decade," according to The New York Times.
Circle Mirror Transformation, the second play in the trilogy, took the 2010 Obie Award for best new play and made the yearly top 10s in the Times, The New Yorker and Time Out New York. In it, a theater teacher enrolls her husband, a former actress, a sullen high school junior and a recently divorced carpenter in her summer "Creative Drama" class at a community center dance studio. By the end of six weeks together, all five will have achieved insights they didn't necessarily sign up for, into each other and themselves, before a final scene that The Village Voice called "devastatingly gentle." Baker's script reinforces that old theatrical saw: When you peel the onion of the self, expect tears.
Glen Matthews directs the show, which opens at 8 p.m. Friday and continues Fridays–Sundays through March 4, plus a pay-what-you-can performance on Thursday, Feb. 23. Tickets are $20, or $15 for students. —Byron Woods