Too Ready Mirror

Too Ready Mirror
By Jamaica Zuanetti. Darebin Arts. Directed by Rachel Baring and presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy and Melbourne Fringe Festival. Studio 2, Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne. 15-28 September, 2017.

Jamaica Zuanetti’s play is inspired by Simone de Beauvoir’s observation: “It is, again, one of the loving woman’s misfortunes to find that her very love disfigures her, destroys her, she is nothing more than this slave, this servant, this too ready mirror, this too faithful echo.”

The text explores the way this observation plays out in the lives of women in three contrasting historical and social contexts. Nell (Jessica Tanner) speaks as a 17th Century woman operating in a courtly sphere, Ruby (Emma Annand) is working within a contemporary ruthless entertainment industry, while Lily (Shoshannah Oks) and Alma (Emina Ashman) operate within the restrictive boundaries of a futuristic institution.

Showing how these oppressive principles govern the expression of sexuality for each of these personas is a fascinating and incisive approach to the feminist agenda of the play, and the equation between sex and power is powerfully conveyed. However, the text could use more support in both the performances and visuals to make the important thematic connections between the characters more visible and palpable.

The immaculate and evocative set design creates a mood which is perfectly attuned to the content. The highly stylised composition of the set neatly divides the space and creates a separate sphere for each period. Lighting and costume design are equally dramatic and accentuate the drama of female sexuality, where the personal is unequivocally political.

Patricia Di Risio

Photographer: Greta Costello

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