Full Circle @ Stirling Theatre
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Full Circle by Janet Shaw, directed by Barry Lefort, is a dramatic comedy about family, marriage, and love. It opens with a squabbling middle-aged married couple, Brian (Gordon Park) and Linda (Fiona Forster), arguing about the upcoming wedding of their daughter, Nicola (Kym Norris), a wedding that Linda has been tirelessly planning. We meet Dee (Ann Speicher) and Millie (Karin Staflund), Brian and Linda’s respective mothers, who have been feuding since before Brian and Linda had even been born! Drama and comedy ensue as the big wedding day approaches.
From the get-go, Gordon Park presents himself as the clear standout performer of the production, he loads the character of Brian with attitude and charisma, and his chemistry with Fiona Forster’s Linda is simply outstanding. Alec Fuderer also turns in a strong performance as Wills, Brian and Linda’s neighbour. Ian Wilson, Richard Norman, Barry Lefort, and Carole Wilson deliver on a fantastically designed set. Teamed with the comedic nature of the play, this highly realistic modern living room makes the production feel like an episode of a British sitcom brought to life.
Ian Wilson’s lighting design is mostly minimal and realistic, appropriately complementing the set design, however, there were some moments that were more unnatural and dream-like, which were also appropriate for the moments where they take place.
Wilson’s sound design was slightly less consistent, while the sound effects during the scenes were appropriate and at times elevated the scene and the comedic moments taking place, the musical choices during scene changes didn’t always land. The first act consistently used That’s Life by Frank Sinatra for each scene change, and then more various choices came in during the second act. It would have been nice for some more varied choices throughout the show, and choices that were more appropriate to the events of the show.
It cannot be ignored that there are some problematic aspects to this play, particularly in the second act. Act One ended with the arrival of Gloria (Carole Wilson), a former lover to Millie, who has since come out as transgender and transitioned into a woman. The character did not reappear for the rest of the play, however, but was talked about frequently by other characters.
It is in these discussions where she is repeatedly misgendered (referred to with he/him pronouns) and deadnamed (referred to with the name they had pre-transition) by other characters in the show. While the younger characters, Wills and Nicola, do have token moments where they educate/inform the other older characters, it never really has an impact on their language in the play, and the same behaviour continues through to the end of the show. These all feel like important features of this script that were overlooked by those who decided to remount this show at the Stirling Theatre, and hopefully they can be more considerate of what they choose to stage in the future.
These issues do not diminish the fantastic work done by the cast and crew on this production. Some of the content of this play will not sit well with all audiences, but there is a lot of love that has been put into Full Circle, and you should keep an eye out for these performers, designers, and theatre makers in the future. It is always important, however, to remember that Trans rights are human rights, and there was room for improvement in how this was handled in this production.