Wedding Cover for Artistic Freedom
“The play is what you can call a write off.” Ćelik
“Is it good? Does it move you? Is it worth telling?” Ćelik
Sam Holcroft’s play A Mirror is about arts censorship. Things have reached such a dire state that the only way a banned play can be performed and seen is through subterfuge and cover up.
We arrive as the guests to a wedding between Layla (Tanya Reynolds) and Joel (Micheal Ward) conducted by the minister (Jonny Lee Miller). We are greeted by Miller and the Best Man (Geoffrey Streatfeild) and thanked for our solidarity and bravery. There are beautiful flowers and decorated tables for the wedding breakfast at the renamed Almeida Hall.
The stuff of the wedding is put aside and we hear about a playwright called Adem Narrowman (Micheal Ward) and his meeting with a departmental official Ćelik (Jonny Lee Miller) and his civil servant assistant Mei (Tanya Reynolds). At this point I am wondering if we are about to witness, like the vogue in the 1990s for many of the male actors to look like Kenneth Branagh, whether all our female actors will be clones of Patsy Ferran).
Adem’s play called The Ninth Floor is about what Adem heard on the other side of his wall from an adjoining flat. Ćelik is simultaneously telling Adem that his play would be banned under the current censorship laws by the ministry that he works for but also recognising his writing talent and offering to foster his work. The Theatres Act and Penal Code is responsible for banning unsuitable work.
At their next meeting Ćelik asks Adem to bring his next play, which as it is read aloud, appears to be a verbatim account of their actual first meeting. This amusingly has criticism of Mei’s lack of expression and fluency in reading her part in The Ninth Floor. Ćelik facilitates a meeting between Adem and another former protegee playwright Bex (Geoffrey Streatfeild).
In Ćelik’s assessment of the second play, he says “You don’t want the next Picasso to be the product of a “Paint by Numbers” competition!” A side result of this censorship are the many historical texts lost to the current generation. Romeo and Juliet is banned. Sam Holcroft’s play underlines how important the Arts are in countering oppressive regimes.
The acting performances are brilliant and we are caught up in this frightening society with its lack of arts and culture. Jonny Lee Miller has great stage presence and it is a treat to see him live in a role full of mystery and double cross. I literally jumped out of my seat at the concluding coup de theatre.
Written by Sam Holcroft
Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Jonny Lee Miller
Director: Jeremy Herrin
Designer: Max Jones
Lighting Designer: Azusa One
Composer and Sound Designer: Nick Powell
Fight Director: Jonathan Holby
Running Time: Two hours without an interval
Booking to 23rd September 2023