There’s nothing like a bit of light entertainment in the run up to Christmas to get you in the festive spirit. I know that Panto’s are abounding across Dublin at the moment; but if you want some of the atmosphere without the swarms of screaming children, I’d highly recommend a trip to ‘Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall’ in The New Theatre: all of the fun, none of the Jedward … it’s a win/win situation!
There were reservations after reading the blurb, with all its suggestion of strong women and girl power. This may be a dreadful thing to say, but however much I want it in real life, mention of ‘strong women’ rarely suggests a darn good time when presented in theatre. All too often, ‘strong’ is presented as cold, and rather bitter. Luckily, this is certainly not the case here; and in each of the characters that both Katie O’Kelly and Clara Purcell play, there is incredible nuance and attention to detail; whether they’re presenting the sisters who frame the whole show, or any of the weird and wonderful array of fairytale characters that appear.
From the opening, as they clamber over the audience and try to escape across the stage in a shortcut to The Olympia; the two players present an infectious energy that you can’t help but be drawn in by. Though the awareness of the audience and the location was great in making the event feel special; their continued apologies for interrupting began to get a bit tired. However, it wasn’t long before this feeling was dispelled by O’Kelly’s beautifully observed Snow White. Throughout the show there is the sense that O’Kelly in particular is having just as much fun performing, as the audience are watching. It’s not hard to believe that she means every word she says about her passion and determination to succeed as an actor (not surprising I suppose, since she also wrote the show), and I think every actor will have whimpered ‘I should have been a postman’ at some point when times were tough. Purcell’s performance was also immaculate, and with the seamless movement between different characters, accents, and physicality, it’s hard to believe that this is her acting debut.
With the awareness that this is ‘play’ in its truest form, it’s easy for the tale to move from one character to another without much of a through-line within the fairytale world; and with the intelligent humour, and detail of each character (from a Birkenstock wearing Rapunzel, to a talk- show host Wolf) constantly drawing you into the next world, the show moves swiftly forward. In a nutshell, with a running time of only one hour straight through, ‘Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall’ is just the slice of fun you need before Christmas.
by Emily Elphinstone