Circle Dance Theatre Review - A World Premiere Event at Skylight Theatre

"Circle Dance" at Skylight Theatre runs through November 7, 2010

                              Publicly, there is no better portrait for the modern nuclear family than The Cannon Family. Sonny Cannon (Dep Kirkland) has retired from a glorious pro football career with the New York Giants. His son Steve (Christopher Poehls) is a rock star quarterback in his own right. With his senior year of college on the horizon, Steve is being actively courted by NFL scouts and seemed primed to follow in his father’s footsteps. Youngest daughter Emma (Courtney Schleinkofer) is the smart one in the family. And like most intellectually formidable people, she is also a bit of a strange bird. Finally, housewife and mother Mary (Laura Lee) is the center around which all these full lives revolve.

The Cannon household is all a buzz with Steve’s impending decision about which team he will choose after or maybe even before finishing college. News surfaces that Emma may have a boyfriend. Sonny can’t get out of the door fast enough, allegedly late for his golf date. And Mary is left to try in vain to assemble a family dinner; a thankless task at which she fails. The family dynamic is strained but civil in the busy household.

Laura Lee (l) & Courtney Schleinkofer (r) in "Circle Dance" at the Skylight Theatre

The brewing unrest finally erupts when Steve finds out about his father’s many infidelities. Going through the motions of the happy family are no longer necessary. Ultimately, each member of the family must decide for themselves if they can forgive, forget, or go back to pretending to be the perfect family.

To a certain extent, we all allow ourselves to be defined by society and by our role within the family unit. Dep Kirkland’s Circle Dance tells the tale of an estranged family who all happening to live under the same roof. The play examines four people’s crisis of identity when they each realize that the understood narrative of their lives, and the part they agreed to play within that narrative, is a lie. It’s painful and heartbreaking to watch. However, to many of us, it is bound to be strikingly familiar.

Dep Kirland (l) & Christopher Poehls (r) in "Circle Dance" at the Skylight Theatre

                                           The first thing I tend look for in an ensemble piece like this one is chemistry between the performers. With Circle Dance, I had to throw that benchmark out the window. Because after all, the piece is primarily about people not connecting, not communicating, neither seeing nor truly hearing each other until it’s too late.

Not to worry, this cast is solid. Dep Kirkland renders a convincing, abrasive performance as Sonny Cannon that crescendos with a powerful, complex show-stopping soliloquy. Laura Lee, Courtney Schleinkofer and Christopher Poehls each deliver truthful, layered performances throughout. The ensemble navigates a script that is slightly overwritten with really great scene work, dancing circles around one another, with each character hiding their own private torments. By the end of the piece, the sense of love and loss is truly profound. Well done. Kudos to Director Rick Andosca for a particularly well modulated drama given the vastly differing voices within the piece.

Circle Dance is running now through November 7, 2010 at:

Skylight Theatre
1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA  90027

Tickets: $24 General Admission, $15 Preview

Sat, Oct 02 – Sun, Nov 07
Friday, Saturday 8 pm
Sunday 2 pm & 7 pm

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