Reviews are coming in for Sam Holcroft’s new play A Mirror at the Almeida Theatre starring Jonny Lee Miller.
The cast includes Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting; Elementary), Tanya Reynolds (Sex Education; Scenes with Girls) and Micheal Ward (Empire of Light; Top Boy), alongside Sara Houghton, Aaron Neil, Geoffrey Streatfeild and musician Miriam Wakeling.
The play is about censorship, authorship and free speech, and is directed by Jeremy Herrin (Best of Enemies).
The creative team also includes set and costume design by Max Jones, lighting design by Azusa Ono, sound design and music by Nick Powell, fight direction by Jonathan Holby and casting director Jessica Ronane CDG.
A Mirror is playing at the Almedia Theatre from 15 August to 23 September 2023.
A Mirror reviews
"Jonny Lee Miller makes a fine stage return in Sam Holcroft’s brilliantly mischievous censorship satire"
"Spoilers purists should abort now, as it’s pointless to try and write about Sam Holcroft’s magnificently mischievous satire ‘A Mirror’ without revealing that it is not – as is initially suggested – some sort of immersive wedding experience."
"Amusingly played by Miller with a sort of manic, Ade Edmonton-style energy, Čelik is a regime apparatchik who believes that he’s doing a service to the arts in his country"
"The joy of Holcroft’s play is that it’s subversive on so many levels. On the one hand, it’s a darkly comic yarn about the absurdity of tyrants who flatter themselves that they’re patrons of the arts - you could clearly read it as effectively being about Belarus or Russia or China, or the censoriousness of our own culture wars. But that’s… a bit of a boring way of looking at it. Another take is that it’s a deliciously thorny skewering of art in general, and its compulsive need to tell tidied-up stories about real life in lieu of the messiness of real life."
"Pirandellian wedding drama throws a bouquet of unrealities"
"Sam Holcroft’s drama delights in the theatrical trickery of dual identities and false realities to throw a final surprise punch"
"Full length (two hours) gives Holcroft space to explore not only censorship, but auto-fiction, appropriation and propaganda."
"My one regret is that A Mirror does not directly address the curiosity in Britain of a form of censorship, on grounds of sensitivity, that is not imposed by the state (indeed, opposed by it) but willingly carried out by many creatives."
"... Holcroft achieves a series of satisfying surprises. Jeremy Herrin’s typically meticulous production observes the crime fiction rules that, while a story can confuse or mislead, it should not wilfully withhold or falsify information."
"Shaven-headed and with a startling stare, Jonny Lee Miller mesmerises as Čelik and his variations, while Tanya Reynolds’s Mei shows an extraordinary range from meek to commanding"
"Jonny Lee Miller heads a starry cast in this sharp satire about state censorship"
"In its opening moments, this dark, elusive farce from playwright Sam Holcroft casts its audience as co-conspirators in an act of defiance against a repressive regime."
"Holcroft’s intricately plotted drama – her first original work since 2015’s inventive Rules for Living – unfolds as a series of plays within plays."
"Director Jeremy Herrin’s brisk, fluid staging makes the shifts between separate narrative strands feel seamless."
"Making his professional stage debut, Top Boy and Empire of Light star Micheal Ward is by turns questioning, bewildered and defiant as Adem"
"Jonny Lee Miller is fantastic in this drama about art and censorship"
"Playwright Sam Holcroft’s study of how oppressive regimes can impact creativity may be closer to home than it initially seems"
"You don’t have to watch Sam Holcroft’s intriguing, twisty, metatheatrical new play for long to work out the title. It’s a reference to the idealised role of the writer: a fearless truthteller who holds up a mirror to society, however unflattering the reflection might be."
"Jeremy Herrin’s direction is fleet-footed and unsettling, underscoring the action with tense jabs of cello. He can’t hide the fact that sometimes the pace drags a little... Still, this play is an achievement: like nothing else you’ll see on London’s stages, full of the kind of meta-theatrical self-awareness that’ll thrill the artsy in-crowd without alienating everyone else. And, if you’ll excuse the cliche, it’ll leave you with much to reflect on."
"The more you stare at it, the less there is to see"
"Jonny Lee Miller is on fine form in this study of art and censorship, but the play collapses under the weight of its own self-importance"
"The less you know about Sam Holcroft’s superficially seductive new play, starring Trainspotting star Jonny Lee Miller, the more you initially are likely to enjoy it. It’s a drama built on sleight of hand – a rare joy these days – and as such is slickly served by Jeremy Herrin’s slippery production, which juggles its shifting realities with the skill of a magician pulling rabbits out of hats. Yet like a house of cards, it collapses under the slightest pressure. It’s a risky business to rely alone on technical dazzle."
"It’s refreshing to see a playwright adroitly experimenting with form, but the irony is The Mirror might have interrogated its ideas more effectively as an Ibsenite character study. Miller gives an entertainingly inflated performance as the awkwardly bullish Celik"
"A slippery interrogation of free speech"
"Jonny Lee Miller and Tanya Reynolds star in two hours of uneasy blurring of the boundaries between truth and fiction"
"... Holcroft leads us down a winding hall of smoke and mirrors, an unsettling journey featuring Trainspotting‘s Jonny Lee Miller as a figure of sinister joviality. This is two hours of uneasy blurring of the boundaries between truth and fiction."
"Miller, cryptically sporting black leather gloves, is in scintillating form, walking the finest tightrope between affability and fear... Reynolds, an actress with a cherishably eloquent deadpan expression and more than a quicksilver hint of A Streetcar Named Desire‘s Patsy Ferran about her, is wonderful too, tracing Mei’s blossoming from a gawky Ministry apparatchik who uses a checklist for script reading into an independent thinker."
"Shooting star cannot save drama of so little spark"
"Every now and then, you may wonder if you are having a bad dream about being trapped at an amateur production at the Edinburgh Fringe. If Sam Holcroft’s static, sophomoric play about censorship in a mysterious authoritarian state were being staged in Auld Reekie, it might well attract a dozen or so curious souls."
"He [Jonny Lee Miller] gives a decent enough account of himself, without getting out of third gear. Yet even the most charismatic performance wouldn’t be enough to salvage a drama which has nothing remotely original to say about putting words to paper under a dictatorship."
"With no interval to provide solace, you find yourself hoping for something to ignite. Which duly happens in the final ten minutes. But it really isn’t worth the wait."
"Thrilling and infuriating in equal measure"
"Clever, thoughtful and tricksy, Sam Holcroft’s work about a playwright in an authoritarian regime is also exasperating"
"Rarely have I been simultaneously so thrilled and infuriated by a play. Sam Holcroft’s arch comedy about a playwright navigating an authoritarian regime is a beautifully crafted, mind-bending piece of work. Jeremy Herrin’s production features a rivetingly OTT central turn from Jonny Lee Miller that burns his past heartthrob image to the ground, and fine, subtle performances from Sex Education’s Tanya Reynolds and rising star Micheal Ward, making a quietly charismatic stage debut. But A Mirror is also a tiresomely metatheatrical paean to the writer as hero and martyr, and a disquisition on the nature of truth and authenticity. For much of the uninterrupted two-hour running time I absolutely hated it."