Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Theater: 'Mirrors' by Siobhan McMillan, Explores Social Media and Mental Health

Writer and actor Siobhan McMillan explores the effects of social media on mental health, through the fairy tale lens, in her one-woman show, Mirrors

In the same year that our actual mirrors became "smart mirrors" and can now comment on their owner's health and beauty (!), with more and more studies being published that confirm an adverse effect of regular social media use on our sense of self, this play seems right on point. 

When asked "why fairy tales" McMillan commented:
I’ve always loved the whole fairy-tale thing: the language and the characters and the fact you can say so much while within this magical world where almost anything can happen, and you can be a little dark too.But at the same time the fairy-tale conventions create a kind of distance. (Stage Review)
It's a distance people might truly need to absorb what's being said, as McMillan comments on this topic - and lifestyle - so very close to home for the average online consumer these days

While the Queen in Snow White is the obvious fairy tale parallel to focus on, that character isn't the only one she explores. But let's take a quick look at the press release and trailer before looking closer at the show.

Press release: 

Inept vlogger Shy Girl has been stood up. Again. Humiliated and a little intoxicated, she stares into her bedroom mirror and decides it is time to act.

Shy Girl conjures up Shivvers – a wicked witch, distant relative of Snow White’s stepmother and the most gorgeous person in the universe. When her mirror announces that her beauty has a rival, Shivvers embarks on a mission to track down and destroy whoever dares to be more gorgeous than she. 
Both a black comedy and a modern fairytale, Mirrors is a provocative and poetic exploration of narcissism and neurosis. Siobhan McMillan’s remarkable performance takes the audience on a fabulous flight of fancy in search of validation and vodka.
Here's the trailer:
You can see more "vlog clips" from Mirrors HERE.

Here are some insights on the show from the Chicago Critic's review:
(On being stood up for a date and taping the wait - as she stares into a mirror for her vlog - she breaks) ... her mirror for informing her she is no longer the most beautiful. No! No!! No!!! 
The resulting plunge into her imagination to find this new beauty coughs up a dazzling array of characters. All her alter egos are here, from the combination Wicked Witch Of The West/Baba Yaga/Cinderalla sister to the most beautiful (and hated) girl, object of her desire and envy (‘I must be a lesbian!…but I can’t be – there aren’t lesbians in fairy tales!*). 
... All this wit and playwrighting skill allows Miss McMillan, herself a beautiful and wondrously expressive actor, a myriad of emotions to share, without ever inviting pity or sympathy. One actually smiles through her painful and intimate moments, for there is magic in the air and a uniqueness in this fabulous performance.
Reviews seem to be very favorable for this one-woman show, which is great to hear, as a topic like this, complete with mirror-staring (and breaking) and watching one woman have somewhat disturbing musings on stage for 70+ minutes, could be difficult to take. But it would seem McMillan has found a good balance between honesty in emotion and subject and comedy/satire in dark moments.

Being unlikely to be able to see the show in person, our first thought on reading the review consensus is that it feels like it could be redone as a vlog series, and released online... Of course, it may be more difficult to watch that way, as it sits alongside its real inspirations.

Mirrors opens at the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge on April 11th (through the 14th), after acclaimed runs at the Rosemary Branch and King’s Head Theatres in North London.
‘Siobhan’s stage presence is infectious… her audience is embraced by her energy, enchanted by her command and captivated by her vitality and mischief.’ - Marc Limpach, Kassematten Theatre, Luxembourg 
'Evokes everything from Salome to Lorca, Ken Russell to Zelda… the scene in which Shivvers feasts on the eyes and toes of men was one of the most electric moments I have experienced at the theatre.’ - Facebook review
We don't know quite what to think of that last review comment either, but please let us know if you get to see the show! We'd love to hear some first-hand accounts from fairy tale folk in the audience.

*We're guessing the character in the play didn't do her research in this respect.


  1. Good Morning, Thanks again for a fascinating sketch and analysis into a modern fairy tale author and her strange affair with imagination and a mirror sort of an Alice in in her own time. Horror and laughter in her dialogue with her selves?

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