In a world of fashion magazines, social media, online dating and reality TV, who needs a magic mirror to remind you every day that you’re not the fairest – or funniest, or coolest, or most talented – of them all? In darkly humorous modern fairytale Mirrors, Siobhan McMillan draws on her own experiences to examine our obsession with measuring our own self-worth based on the perception of others, and the desperate places that obsession can take us to.
Vlogger ShyGirl is excited – not only does she now have eight YouTube subscribers, she also has a new boyfriend, Mikey, who’ll be here any minute. Mikey, however, doesn’t sound to us like much of a catch, and when he inevitably doesn’t show up, ShyGirl’s fragile self-esteem is crushed. In a fit of rage, she conjures up a gorgeous, confident alter ego, Shivvers, who’s a distant relative of Snow White’s evil stepmother. Shivvers has her own magic mirror, which dutifully tells her every day that she’s the most beautiful in the land… until one day it doesn’t. Horrified and furious, she sets out to find and destroy her competition, but ultimately discovers only other women who are secretly as messed up and neurotic as she is.
Directed by Gabi Maddocks, Mirrors is a short, punchy and action-packed solo show, which takes us on an epic journey through a brand new fairytale land. Writer and performer Siobhan McMillan is a gifted storyteller, bringing her characters and surroundings to life with the aid of a few props, some impressive physical characterisation, and a lot of imagination. She’s also very funny, frequently diverting from the traditional fairytale script and in doing so making her character much more relatable than your standard Disney villain; Shivvers might be a terrifying ice queen on a murderous quest, but she also drinks, swears, and gets bored, hungry and grumpy just like the rest of us.
As laugh out loud funny as the show frequently is, however, anyone hoping for a fairytale ending for Shivvers (or ShyGirl) will be disappointed. This surreal adventure ends as it began: having failed to find her rival, she returns home alone, still begging her broken mirror/laptop for reassurance. It’s a gloomy note to end on, but feels appropriate given that the universal quest for perfection – whether you’re a Shivvers or a ShyGirl – is one that seems unlikely ever to be over.
Frequently bizarre, and occasionally downright baffling, Mirrors is a unique experience. The show tackles some serious questions in an entertaining and humorous way, and while it doesn’t offer any constructive solutions, in reflecting back to us our own anxieties and fears, it does make us feel a little bit less alone.
Mirrors is at Leicester Square Theatre until 14th April.
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