On the 2nd February, I had the pleasure of seeing the debut of a thought-provoking LSU Stage Society’s play ‘Mirrors’, written by Emma Tindall and co-directed by Martha Mc Hugh. In essence, the play is about the relationship between a young girl and her mother, who struggles with an ongoing alcohol addiction. The focus of the story lies in the perceptions we have about ourselves and the reality of who we truly are; it is an account of relationships, emotions and the fragile state of human lives. The writing and directing masterfully combines elements of contemporary lifestyle of young people, the drama of family life and struggles together with a dash of sex appeal to create a story of agony and sorrow.
The protagonist is Chloe, a young and talented pianist, that is destined for a bright future and great success, but maybe not in this ‘real’ world. Chloe is a girl with the world on her shoulders, who tries her best to save her mother and maintain her relationship with her boyfriend and friends. Although I am careful not to spoil the plot, I will inform you that this is not a happy tale even though there are some elements of comical relief. Analysing this play, a title of ‘a series of unfortunate events’ comes to mind with an appropriate warning to ‘look away, look away, look away’ but this is the story you have to see.
It is difficult to effectively describe what the play seeks to portray. Art is often interpretative and, thus, our comprehension is subjective. Factually, the play is about a strained relationship between a mother and a daughter and the consequences it has on their relationships with other people. Artistically, however, it is something much more: it is a play that analyses the ways in which humans perceive themselves; it is a story about friendships and relationships; a story about the (the reasons for) lies and excuses we tell, (self-)deception, (self-)blame, futility, regret and so on. Inexplicably, it is all of these things but also so much more. It’s a comment about life and destiny. It’s a poignant testimony that everything will not always be okay and that we don’t get second chances.
It is rather impossible to portray the complexity of a human character, but the play does exactly that. Sometimes we try so hard not to become like someone else, but we end up exactly the same. There is some truth to the fact the traits we find most annoying in others are a reflection of our own flaws and this concept is brilliantly captured in the relationship between Chloe and her mother.
The director, Emma Tindall, is right that “we never see ourselves for what we are”. We don’t differentiate our actions from our thoughts and although we mean well, our actions may be hostile and alienating. There are so many lies in the story, the characters themselves (and the viewers) become consumed by the circumstances of their own-making. One scene, in particular, encapsulates the vividness of the inner struggle and ruthlessness of life’s potential to tear us apart from inside. On a deeper level, the play tells us that we demand (or expect) others to notice that we struggle and help us cope, but also points out that we are blind when it happens to others because we are too lost in our own battles. The obliviousness to the plight of others is a key theme of this play, but that only becomes clear towards the end of the play, because the viewer only sees the world through the eyes of Chloe.
Although this is a theatrical performance, I found the play to be quite poetic in its writing and directing style; watching it evoked sad and melancholic images of Sylvia Plath’s poems, the realness of Shakespeare’s tragedies or even the elegance of Elizabeth Bishop. The play opens with a playful melody of ‘River flows in you’ (by Yiruma) that adds a graceful yet heartrending overtone to the play. The melody appears throughout the performance and reinforces the twisted nature of life that is both beautiful and sad. Sometimes we reflect on our circumstances and think that ‘it shouldn’t be our life, but it is’ and that is the central theme of this play. Moreover, the play starts and ends in a beautifully sad way and the only thing we are asking ourselves “What if…?”.
Nine characters make appearances in the play – Chloe (protagonist), Gemma and Anny (Chloe’s friends), Mrs. Richardson (Chloe’s mother), George (Chloe’s boyfriend), Jeremy Huntley (Chloe’s teacher), Jamie (Mrs Richardson’s boyfriend), a ‘mysterious’ character that I cannot reveal and also a charming brunette. I thought that the cast was brilliant and brought true passion, talent and skill to the stage. Chloe’s character was phenomenal in authentically personifying the drama and struggle of her life; Anny’s character development from two-dimensional to three-dimensional was excellent; Gemma nicely provided us with the comic relief the story truly needed and brought in genuine positivity to the evening; Mrs. Richardson’s depiction was heart-breaking and touching; George, even in his limited appearances, provided a solid performance contributing immensely to the solemn tone of the play; Mr. Jeremy’s character was truly flawless and complete; Jamie acted as the most manly character in the play and appeared to be the most competent person who could have altered Chloe’s fate but ended up serving his own self-interests. His role in the play reminds us that not always heroes come to save us; lastly, the charming brunette in a bar scene helps to lighten up the mood and adds, at least, some sort of beauty to the gloomy evening.
There are so many other things I could comment on, for example the meaning of Chloe’s attraction to the red colour, the symbolism of an empty chair reserved for Mrs. Richardson, the significance of (a purposeful) lack of presence of George, Mr. Huntley’s inability to express his authority etc.
In summary, the play demonstrates simplicity in its purest form where a good story and a passionate cast does not require an extensive budget, sophisticated lighting or specialized props to create a beautiful production. It simply is a story worth telling and the cast worth watching.
So, Thank You.
The play is shown from February 2nd – 4th at the Loughborough University’s Leonard Dixon Studio with the performance starting at 19:30.
To read more about the play: http://www.loughboroughecho.net/news/local-news/university-students-play-views-human-12528975
To buy the tickets: https://www.lsu.co.uk/society/stage/
LSU Stage Society’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LSUStageSoc