Review: Also A Mirror

by Jane

This review originally appeared on www.lowdown.net.au

Urban Myth Theatre of Youth teamed up with aged care providers ECH to present a new script by Sean Riley, Also A Mirror under the direction Glenn Hayden.

The young cast of fifteen tell the story of several characters suffering from dementia: their current stories, and the stories that made up their lives before the failing of memory. The production most ably succeeds in its visual language.

Designed by Kerry Reid, the deep stage of the Goodwood Institute is a wash of white: white floors, white lace curtains, white wardrobes filled with memories. Nivven Barlow brings the white canvas of a set to life with measured and detailed lighting design, while video projections by Madeleine Parry add colour and a subtle exploration of the back stories of characters.

When the stage is taken over by the ensemble, some beautiful images arise: spread across the stage in chairs, they sort out perplexity of how to sit; as a car-crash is recounted as the cast moves across the stage in a ripple, swiveling in union in synchronisation with the sound of spreading cars.

The most genuinely acted moments in the production exist within the memories of the characters: when they go back and relive young relationships. Created with so many overlapping stories, very little background can be given, and so it is only the simplest stories–the blossoming of a relationship at a dance, the recount of a blind date–that I could associate with.

It is within these simpler moments the most satisfying performances are seen. Yet, with such a young cast many stories came off fourth hand: these are the stories of elderly people told to writer and director, who told it to the cast, who tell it to the audience. The disconnection between a teenager just entering their adult years, and a dementia patient losing the last of their adult years, comes across as just too big a bridge.

The more complicated stories, in particular the story of a German immigrant and his wife, are not afforded the detailed background they deserve, and thus scenarios and charactisations get lost. As a twenty-two year old reviewer–only a few years older than the cast and the students who would be attending in the Fringe’s Youth Engagement Program–I failed to find the work accessible. I didn’t have the life-view necessary to be able to connect to the characters, the cast didn’t have the life-view necessary to be able to convey it to me, and writer Riley and director Hayden failed to span this distance.

Ultimately, Also A Mirror is too veiled to truly explore and convey themes of dementia to a young audience.

Urban Myth Theatre of Youth present Also A Mirror by Sean Riley.  Directed by Glenn Hayden, set/costume design by Kerry Reid, lighting design by Nivven Barlow, vision design by Madeleine Parry, sound design by Timothy Lorimar. With Lucca Boyce, Sarah Brennan, Sexter Ducket, Olivia Fareweather, Keenan Haynes, Maddy Herd, Felix Kneebone, Daniel Lyas, Poppy Mee, Rodger Pamis, Ruby Rafalowicz, Julia Sciaacca, Bodhi Shibman, Sophia Simmons, and Patrick Zoemer.  At the Goodwood Institute, in the Adelaide Fringe 10/03/11

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