Mirror Mirror, Show Me a Hero ensures that it can be easily identified as Barbadian Theatre. The play uses magic as a tool to manipulate time and highlight current affairs in a refreshing way and Barbadian history and heroes in a 21st century context.
Beginning in present day Barbados, we see the actors take the stage as representations of Barbadians from all backgrounds of life, expressing their discomfort and frustration on current issues our country faces such as water scarcity and electricity.
The constant groans of the Barbadian population are so powerful, they eventually attract the attention of other worldly beings; The Nethers and Neva, an enchanting robotic leader -played by NIFCA award winning dancer, Aisha Comissiong – who offers a solution to all their problems. Promising unlimited power, information and freedom from all their ailments, one by one Barbadians choose to “plug in” to these machines.
But this gift of ultimate enlightenment comes with a sinister twist; the machines make the Barbadian society passive, removing all the memories of Barbados’ history. One citizen, Chris, played by Nala, gives the Nethers an almost fatal virus and is taken away.
Flashing forward to Barbados on November 30th 2116 – what was previously Independence Day and is now the anniversary of the Nethers’ arrival – we find Chris as the oldest living Barbadian. The scene begins in a mental institution where we meet our three main characters, Shadon, played by Shea Best, Kermit, played by Jabari Browne and Meka, played by Saran Lashley.
On this day of celebration, the Nethers, having upgraded their systems, attempt to plug in Chris one more time, in hopes of erasing his memories of past Barbados. Before being captured Chris warns his grandson, Shadon, to prepare for the great hurricane which will take them back in time. With that the thunder begins to rumble, the lights flash and the hurricane comes.
We then follow these three characters on their journey to find the instruments Chris promised would defeat the Nethers: a tool, a weapon and a Hero.
The story, conceptualized by Alison Sealy-Smith and written by Shakirah Bourne, was an innovative way of highlighting Barbados’ history, national heroes, iconic figures and culturally historic moments. Mirror Mirror, Show Me A Hero, is a story that does not only resonate with mature audiences, but is also relatable to the youth. It included the themes of racism, colourism, unity and nationalism. Not only will you find teachable moments about Barbadian culture but also that of the Ashanti in West Africa with the introduction of Adinkra Symbology.
Jabari Brown, who brought the majority of comical relief with the character Kermit, was a clear crowd favourite along with Shea Best.
Supporting actors who delivered powerful performances were Zoe Armstrong-Brathwaite as Nanny Gregg, Angelo Lascelles as Sir Garfield Sobers and Toni McIntosh as Rachel Pringle. These actors exuded raw emotions in both singing and acting drawing you into each of their stories.
One of the things that I, and other audience members noted, was the inability to understand what some of the actors were saying and singing at sometimes. This is not in terms of the foreign language used but the enunciation of the words and the clarity of their speech.
Within all this action and drama were amazing renditions of both modern and classical Barbadian songs. From Rachel Pringle singing “Tek Off Something” to traditional songs such as Row Row, Nanny. The musical director and arranger Dr. Stefan Walcott did an excellent job with the musical selection, tailoring each song to compliment the various scenes. I sincerely hope sometime in the future I would be able to hear on track some of these songs that I have since found myself singing, remixed lyrics and all.
The backing band, The 1688 Collective, who played live but hidden was also very impressive. Everything sounded like professionally recorded tracks and it was only as I read the booklet during intermission that I learnt otherwise.
Specific pieces of costumes, such as Rachel Pringle’s, grabbed the eye; a vibrant dress adorned with intricate details and trimmings. Another impressive piece was Neva’s; a vibrant orange body suit with a matching head piece. These costumes did not only serve as spectacle but also served purpose within the story.
The colours of the frocks we see our three main characters wearing were symbolic of the colour of their skin (as exemplified in the accompanying song “Colour of My Frock” by Yannick Hooper and Dr. Stefan Walcott). This allowed the story to present the theme of colourism into the story as Meka, who was of a lighter complexion seemed to have more privileges than Kermit who was of a dark complexion.
While Meka believed that the colour of her frock didn’t matter and the privileges that others weren’t privy to wasn’t her problem, as they travel through history Kermit continually points out each time which always lead to bickering between the two. It was meeting Nanny Greg amid the Boussa rebellion that she and Kermit learnt that regardless of their varying complexions, they were still one people and had to work together.
Along with props and costuming to create a scene, the production used multi-media which projected scenery and videos onto the stage.
The multi-media was an important factor which aided in creating the futuristic scenes. It was also used to show the hurricane which teleported them to the different historical times in Barbados.
The only time I didn’t find the use of multimedia to add to the scene was at the end in the ‘fight scene’ between Neva and Kermit, which came across like a fight scene from the 90’s Mortal Kombat arcade game minus any beams or visible physical attack, just the two actors shown thrusting their hands back and forth on two opposite platforms.
It was a theatrical experience that cannot be easily forgotten (especially for its musical and costume elements) and one that I appreciated in its entirety. Congratulations to all who were involved in Mirror Mirror, Show Me a Hero.
Mirror Mirror, Show Me a Hero was produced by the National Cultural Foundation in collaboration with the Central Bank of Barbados. The production had as its crew Stefan Walcott as the musical director, Russel Watson as Set/Multi-Media Director and choreographers Olivia Hall and Rene Blackman, Motion Graphics by Danny Fenty and Glen Braithwaite as Costume Designer. The full cast includes Zoe Armstrong-Brathwaite, Michael Rapley, David Weekes, Levi King, Angelo Lascelles, Carlos Barrow, Luci Hammans, Toni McIntosh, Shalisha Samuels, Shameka Walters, Kareem Agard, Indra Rudder, Aisha Comissiong, Nala, Shea Best, Saran Lashley and Jabari Browne.
See photos from the play in our Facebook album.