• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

A Mirror Review

ByMátin Cheung

Oct 17, 2023
Man in black suit looks down at floor

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Mirror is a play about a play in which characters write, read, watch and question plays and playwriting.

Sam Holcroft, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, successfully created a piece of theatre that composes different meaningful layers of reality in a short two-hour time. A Mirror invites the audiences to an underground performance of a play that was denied a licence by the Ministry of Culture of a dictator government and was forced to perform under the disguise of a wedding. Frequently interrupted by sirens and knocks on the door, the production depicts the real-life battle between the playwright Adem (Jonny Lee Miller), who also plays the role of the censor in the Ministry in the play, and the Ministry censor. Alongside the lovely couple in the wedding: the son of a Minster (Micheal Ward) who plays Adem and his love interest who plays Mei, a junior member of the Ministry, the cast of the play within the wedding in A Mirror is completed by the best man in the wedding (Geoffrey Streatfeild) who takes the role of Bax, musician who serves both the wedding and the play (Miriam Wakeling) and the wedding guest (Sara Houghton).

With the help of a photographic memory, Adem’s works always mirror reality. With such effects, the play begins with Čelik, the censor, asking Adem to rewrite his work. In Čelik’s opinion, Adem has shown promises in writing, however, his honesty and loyalty to reality could prevent his works from ever being staged, as they reflect the brutal reality of the people’s life under the government. Therefore, following the example set by his previous collaboration with an established playwright Bax, Čelik wants to guide him into writing “arts”, rather than reality. Using its titular metaphor, Čelik told Adem that transcribing without imagination is like a mirror. It will never become an art. True art should be fictional, like paintings. 

As a piece of metadrama, unlike many meaningless and overused broken forth walls, A Mirror successfully utilises its format to ask questions about autofiction, propaganda, censorship and the relationship between fiction and reality. Despite the ending of the play, where the performance was interrupted by the real-life Čelik with anger and ended with real Adem’s passionate speech about censorship, redirecting the narrative to and ending the story with censorship and dictatorship in culture and media, A Mirror still questions the true meaning of art. Details imply that even Adem wasn’t always telling the truth in his play as the play also includes multiple conversations between other characters where Adem was not present. 

Living in the UK, not every theatre goer has the experience of censorship, however, for those who had similar experiences, A Mirror could evoke stronger emotions.

A Mirror runs at the Almeida Theatre from Tue 15 Aug to Sat 23 Sep 2023

Image by Marc Brenner provided via Press Release