Mirror Mirror on the Blog?
Last weekend I watched Michael Holgate’s new production Blogs and Mirrors at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts. The cast comprised members of the University Players and the Ashe Company, starring Toni “Bella” Blair (of Youtube fame) and Rudolph Tomlinson. Supporting cast members included Desmond Dennis, Tiffany Thompson and Tiffany Smith.
The musical stumbles through the lives of four characters: Ebony who has recently inherited her father’s company; Phil, her love interest; June who has fallen in love with a boy she met online; and Chidi, the boy online. The much-neglected plot spirals around underhandedness, deceit and the power of believing in yourself. Delivered spoken-word style, Holgate’s good intentions are received but he falls into the trap of telling instead of showing.
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
Wit vs Creativity
There was a smattering of well-delivered punchlines, and what it lacked in creativity the script certainly made up in wit. I found that the cast handled humour more believably than the serious issues. Jamaicans (maybe all theatre goers?) have a tendency to laugh when they feel awkward or embarrassed and the characters actually pointed this out. But I think some entertainment value was lost by erring on the side of too serious. I got the point, but maybe there was another way he could have brought across the same ideas with less proselytizing.
Highs and Lows
Thompson’s voice continues to inspire awe in her sassy rendition of the Magic Mirror; Bernard continues to play the mustache-twirling villain with masterful aplomb; and the monkeys’ moves were executed with laudable technique. But June’s character was incredibly annoying; Ebony and Phil’s romance has very little believability; and Blair’s delivery of Ebony lacked the feeling that could have brought her character to life.
Throughout the musical I kept losing touch with the central story, caught adrift in side stories that did little or nothing to move the central plot forward. But the original songs and dances were entertaining (if sometimes too long) and inspiring.
I have my own personal pet peeves. How come every time the main character is a girl the plot dissolves into a sappy romance? Just once I would like to see a play where the happy ending does not involve the lead girl finding the man of her dreams.
Additionally (and this is a personal point) the second half took a religious turn that left me feeling somewhat unsettled. When I go to the theatre I don’t expect to find Jesus. I don’t have a problem with him being there, but it’s a bit like walking in on someone in the bathroom (the awkward kind of surprising).
Overall I’d give Blogs and Mirrors 4/10. It was entertaining enough, but there was really no “wow” factor.