As soon as we enter The Lounge room at The Leicester Square Theatre, we feel as though we are intruding into someone’s personal space. Coloured cushions and shiny trinkets adorn the room and a vanity table takes centre stage. The place belongs to Shy Girl: a tacky vlogger with nothing new to say, eager to please, desperate to be loved and happy to settle for bad sex and a worse attitude. Sound like anyone you know?
Mirrors is a one-woman show; part black comedy, part fairy tale, written and performed by the compelling Siobhan McMillan. When Shy Girl is stood up, again, she decides to act. Well, she decides to drink. And that vodka-induced mind leads us down a dark fable-like rabbit hole, verbally narrated by McMillan, where we’re asked to consider beauty and envy in way that is both amusing, and hits home just hard enough to be uncomfortable. Shy Girl becomes Shivvers, a fabulous intoxicated alter ego and direct relation to Snow White’s wicked stepmother. We’re told that Shivvers is beautiful, we’re told she’s confident, we’re told she has strength, and you know what? We believe it too. We follow her on a murderous rage as she attempts to track down one more fair and lovely than herself. On her journey she encounters an ethereal beauty, second only to Snow White herself, only to discover her midnight bingeing habits. She then meets a suitably snooty Penelope; just to find out she’s also fatally flawed. None of these women are as perfect as they look, and Shivvers struggles to find the real cause for her sense of inadequacy. This play both acknowledges and mocks the way we lash out at other women, the jealously we can feel when we’re inferior, the smugness we try to hide when we’re slightly better looking. McMillan puts it out there for all to see.
Mirrors is a mixed bag, funny and wry for the majority, but with just one too many moments that miss the mark. I found the chips and hummus section quite baffling, and there were certain moments of physical comedy that I simply couldn’t see. The venue didn’t help this, with the chairs set up in a configuration that meant, unless you were sat on the front row, there was always a portion of stage blocked from view.
Mirrors is all about perception. How different is our perception of ourselves from how others see us? Quite radical if Shivvers is anything to go by. McMillan’s fairy tale is witty, bizarre and ends with an unspoken disclaimer on how damaging constant comparisons can be.
Mirrors is playing The Leicester Square Theatre until 14 April
Photo: Thomas Aston