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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Mirror Teeth
Finborough Theatre Summer 2011

The enigmatic title of Nick Gill's new play may suggest a reflection of reality with a bit of a bite to it, and that is indeed what he provides in a social satire that is sharp, funny and very much on target, only stumbling a bit when the playwright is unable to sustain his edge to the very end. 

We are introduced to an archetypal Middle England family, their delight in seeing themselves as typical and representative consciously echoing the opening of Ionesco's Bald Prima Donna.

But things quickly get darker and funnier as their ordinariness is shown to be made up of the casual racism, xenophobia, paranoia and hypocrisy of Daily Mail readers. 

Father is a small-scale arms dealer who specialises in providing guns to inner city gangs in the hope they'll kill each other off, though he has ambitions in the direction of the Middle East. 

Mother is convinced that every man of colour wants either to knife or ravish her, and is more than a bit ambivalent about the latter. Teenage daughter is sexually voracious, while university-student son is well on his way toward faceless middle management. 

Daughter starts the plot rolling by bringing home her new black boyfriend, and before too long we are awash in rape, murder, mutilation, fomenting revolution and telling fibs to the police. 

And it is, through at least three-quarters of its length, very funny, with the satire expertly controlled so that each raising of the stakes follows logically from the comic premise. 

Only in the last fifteen minutes or so does the playwright begin to lose his touch, partly through the need to keep one-upping himself and partly through losing his focus. 

He introduces a new character who brings with him a complete change in tone, writing style, satiric target and even reality, as time and space start behaving oddly, and the play begins to meander and flounder. 

Things limp along to a satisfactory ending, but one more rewrite of that last section could only have helped. 

Much of the play's success up to and even including that lapse must be credited to the sprightly direction of Kate Wasserberg and to the cast who strike and sustain exactly the right level of satiric comedy without tipping over into complete cartoons: David Verry as father, Jamie Baughan as son, Jotham Annan as gentleman caller, and especially Louise Collins as daughter and Catherine Skinner as mother.


Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Mirror Teeth - Finborough 2011