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Theatre Review:
Into the Mirror

The five intersecting stories of Into the Mirror celebrate identity and affirm the choices of its characters. At the play’s close, a mirror, draped in a dark cloth at its opening and used by various characters to reflect their image throughout, is left uncovered as characters discover that they need not be afraid of what they see.

The play opens with Kendall (Penny Day), formerly Sally, removing the cloth, taking off his coat and shirt and examining his image. As his outstretched hand is about to touch his reflection he withdraws it before contact. His transitioning, his desperation to be who he wants to be, highlights the struggle of all the characters not only to find their identity, but to be accepted by others.

Kendall’s daughter, Melanie (Amber Robinson), finds it difficult to accept Kendall’s transition, as she feels it implies a rejection of her as a daughter. Now pregnant, Melanie needs her mother’s support but is only prepared to accept it from “Sally”. In the past, it seems that Melanie has received the kind of affection she perceives as mother-love from her former live-in baby-sitter, Auntie Sophia (Carole Sharkey Water).

Despite Sophia’s outward appearance of sweet affability she is haunted by a past decision, made at the dictates of social standards that condemned her as unworthy. Her frequent objection to being “squished” when hugged is given a different dimension when an unsympathetic nurse is determined to squash Sophia’s desire to be a woman.

Kendall’s desire to live a man’s life brings him into contact with Tyler (Helen Stuart), who is conflicted about who she is. In a lesbian relationship with the passionate Lauren (Katie Lees), she is attracted to Kendall as a man able to negate the effects of a childhood traumatic sexual encounter.

Wall’s powerful exploration of the intricacies of the human struggle for identity and self-fulfilment is simply and very effectively staged.

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