In One Way Mirror ‘experimental theatre’ takes on an entirely different meaning – upending the customary roles of performers in more ways than one.
Settling in to the traverse stage seating at the Blood Moon Theatre, it won’t be immediately apparent who is there to watch the play and who is a part of it. A clever effect, it readily highlights the dichotomy between audience and player (as well as that between the latter and their role).
Gleaning the psychological experiments of yesteryear and the role of actors in staged studies concerning altogether different effects from those apparent to their subjects, One Way Mirror follows a group of emerging actors as they cycle between Psychology Departments and titans of the field.
Exploring its fascinating concept through more physical dynamics at the outset, One Way Mirror, Written and Directed by Paul Gilchrist, nonetheless veers towards a more traditional dramatic staging as the play progresses. Weakest when the characters take turns expounding on one or more social science theories or the biographies of a chosen philosopher, among them Hannah Arendt, the interactions between the various characters prove much more compelling. Focusing in part on Mike (Ash Sakha), who proffers one of the play’s most dramatic segments during a feigned electric shock sequence, his burgeoning dynamic with Ophelia (Alison Benstead) is one of the play’s most engaging aspects.
Matthew Abotomey has perhaps the most intriguing role throughout as the subject of a series of experiments. It is through his performance that the electric shock sequence is rendered more palpable than most as he, and the audience, are forced to reckon with the ethics of these encounters.
Proceedings continue with a collection of experiences and recountings by the uncommon troupe, which includes two strongly endearing performances from Sylvia Keays and Sonya Kerr. The short run time however allows for a seldomly sustained focus on any particular character or interplay, with the group dynamic gradually becoming less involving as it’s various tracts are increasingly splintered.
Revisiting the earlier staging method and reflexive role of the performers and audience themselves in the latter half, the aptly named One Way Mirror is a great conversation point for those both taken with the realm of psychology and the oft-passive if quintessential role audiences can play in any production.
3 ½ stars out of 5
One Way Mirror
Presented by subtlenuance
Writer and Director – Paul Gilchrist
Assistant Director – Luke Holmes
Lighting Design – Liam O’Keefe
Producer – Daniela Giorgi
Blood Moon Theatre, Kings Cross
14-24 March, 2018