Rosemary Branch Theatre, London
Maybe the witch in Snow White isn’t that bad. Or, maybe her badness is justified, like she had a traumatic childhood or suffers from a mental illness. Siobhan McMillan proposes just that: Shivvers realizes she’s past her prime and, with insecurity taking over rational thought, she decides to hunt down the young woman who dethroned her from her position as the fairest in the land. This quest takes shape as a solo performance told in the third person, like a fairytale. McMillan regularly interjects with contemporary references and using sarcastic humour to great advantage, makes a strong comment on women’s insecurity about ageing.
The use of third person narration is one of the more interesting features of Mirrors; it distances McMillan from the audience and herself. Her physicality and energy cannot be denied as she embodies the characters she simultaneously describes. The audience is told her story but has plenty to watch, and a liberal use of sound and vocal effects create a dynamic aural landscape, even if a touch too loud at times.
The use of an occasional live feed adds another visual layer by which the audience scrutinises Shivvers, but a backlight interferes. The intention shows good instinct by director Jesse Raiment. The set isn’t particularly dynamic with its black flats and mirrors, save for the ornate frame mounted on a table centre stage – a symbol of modern obsession with female appearance and its dominance in Shivver’s life.
This feminist solo show is an excellent display of performance storytelling and a witty comment on modern life as a woman. Not just about aging, it also looks at female competition, the need to be desired and the perils of dating. With the opportunity of a longer run, Mirrors could upgrade its tech and design to create a more polished production matching its content, creating a piece great for touring small to mid-scale venues.