Arts Club Theatre Company on Tour
(A Firehall Arts Centre production)

Circle Game by Andrew Cohen and Anna Kuman

Dates and Venues
February 14 – March 26, 2019 | Various venues throughout the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

Performers Benjamin Millman, Scott Perrie, Adriana Ravalli, Kimmy Choi, Samantha Bourque, & David Z. Cohen

Directors Andrew Cohen & Anna Kuman Musical Director Andrew Cohen Choreography Anna Kuman & Andrew Cohen Set Designer Carolyn Rapanos Lighting Designer Ian Schimpf Sound Designer Geoff Hollingshead Costume Designer Jessie Van Rijn Technical Director Ted Roberts Stage Manager Jillian Perry

Reviewer Cassie Silva

Since the first concert I ever attended as a child was Joni Mitchell, I enjoyed the opportunity to come full circle and attend Circle Game. The name seems fitting, as the song by Mitchell refers to the carousel of time and growing up. “We can’t return we can only look behind from where we came, and go round and round and round in the circle game…”

Directors/Creators Kuman and Cohen explain the purpose of the production was to bridge a generational divide and look at Mitchell’s work through a modern lens. “Just as Millennials have inherited the problems left to us by earlier generations, so too have we adopted their wisdom, warnings, and witticisms.”

The set, lighting and wardrobe were primarily second-hand or repurposed, also fittingly “reimagined” from their original purpose. Visually, this production was stunning. The eclectic set was not only an enjoyable background, but frequently interacted with and moved about to create more intimate settings for some numbers. Even a wheeled ottoman was creatively utilized in one performance to great effect.

As one of the few millennials in attendance, I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to get better acquainted with songs written decades before, and written off by many younger people as old-fashioned tunes from “our parent’s generation.”

The best performance of the night in my opinion was Scott Perrie’s rendition of “Freeman in Paris.” I really enjoyed the creative music-making, featuring more obscure instruments I haven’t seen since elementary school music class like the cabasa and the triangle. Cast members even created music by blowing into bottles, stomping their feet, drumming, and playing tambourines.

I loved the idea of making Mitchell’s songs relevant to a new generation, and I really enjoyed the music, but I wished there had been more storytelling and narrative to get to know the characters on stage. Why were these six individuals hanging out together and singing Mitchell songs? Some performances alluded to romantic plotlines, but I felt without more character development it was hard to care much about their plight. I found the second act more enjoyable as it focused more on the musical performances, and less on these underdeveloped relationships.

Circle Game delighted the eyes and ears, and left me eager to look up songs and listen more to Mitchell’s music – which I believe fulfilled the intentions and hopes of the show’s creators.

© 2019 Cassie Silva