Now Reading
Who knew “A Mirror” “a play” about Authoritarian Regimes Could Be Such Fun

Who knew “A Mirror” “a play” about Authoritarian Regimes Could Be Such Fun

You join us at the wedding of Leyla and Joel as this play-within-a-play-within-a-play about the power of creating a narrative to perpetuate power begins.

Written by Sam Holcroft “A Mirror” at The Almeida theatre sees BAFTA rising star Michael Ward make his theatrical debut. Under the direction of Jeremy Herrin, the play addresses what happens in many dictatorships where the arts are heavily censored. If your production in not state approved, you risk going to prison. Writer Holcroft uses the Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) to show what might happen in order to stage a production that the state does not approve of. BFT had to pretend they were performing a wedding which also requires the audience to be in on the act and dress as such, come dressed as wedding guests. A Mirror starts with a wedding which is not really a wedding but a play that will be staged once it is safe to do so.

Jonny Lee Miller leads the cast supported by Tanya Reynolds (Sex Education) who all seamlessly change character, alongside Ward.

Once the coast is clear  and knowing that the police might turn up at any time and they do which requires the actors to at a blink of an eye get back into the characters at the cheap wedding ritual.

Then get right back into the play within the play which sees the subversive and funny struggle between Čelik  played by Jonny Lee Miller), the rather ambitious second in “command” in the government’s culture ministry, and Adem played by Micheal Ward), an ex-soldier now  a motor mechanic who is clearly bipolar. Adem has submitted a play for approval by the ministry, which gets him a sit in Celik’s office to “talk” about the play.

Celik believes he is doing a great service to young writers steering their careers in the right direction, inviting Adem into the office sets the stage for a funny exchange, which includes Tanya Reynolds as Leyla, assistant to Celik. Ward says in an interview “I guess it is a play about censorship”, indeed it is A Mirror, sets to  interrogate censorship and free speech. A play that speaks to the times. Currently in the United States certain books are being pulled from schools across various states.

Delivered in two hours and no interval the layers of deception unravel between character changes and Adem’s play rewrites becoming even more subversive, as he only writes plays about conversations he has heard, and Celik is not amused.

 A Mirror has a number of interpretations one of which is how writers can be oppressed by the gatekeepers to the arts, how many times have you heard writers say that work submitted becomes not quite what they started off with, perhaps.

The cast brilliantly navigate between the wedding and the dominate story Miller’s Celik is played with a little madness, taking glee in telling the little dense Adem that he could be sent to re-education camp and when he tells Adem and Leyla to act out the script  we see more funny moments, awkward moments as Leyla is no actor (but Reynolds is). Ward’s Adem pretends to not have many layers but his verbatim play  of his conversations with Celik shows the hypocrisy of a man who sees himself as a guiding light for writers not the censor  that he is.

See Also

Clever direction by Herrin and with a brilliant cast, the humorous  and intentionally chaotic delivery does not fail to remind you of the times we live in now and how freedom of speech and telling the truth is  threatened. Who knew a play about censorship, authoritarian regimes and oppressed writers could be such fun and have a few surprises.

120 minutes (without interval)

WHEN?: ……… runs through 23 September 2023