Beauty is Difficult
Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the most beautiful of us all. Beauty is difficult, that is very true.
This show by heartBeast Vicious Theatre Ensemble takes us on a dark yet exceedingly fascinating
journey seen through the eyes of some of the most beautifully tragic women in the history of
literature; Phedre, Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina, Hedda Gabler and Mrs Danvers who in this play is
known as Danni.
The long church hall seemed a very unlikely performance venue when I first approached however,
when the lights dimmed and the cast first emerged on stage in absolute darkness and then
illuminated by a single angled spot, I was captivated. I was a little put off by the fact that I could
hear the actors walking around on stage in the blackouts, I am aware that it was choreographed
movement but they were not always walking in time with each other and the ripple effect of this
was somewhat distracting from the overall feeling that was achieved in this piece. While the
venue was used well I was a little disappointed at the fact that a lot of the action, particularly at the
beginning, happens on the floor very close to the audience. I am a very short person sitting about
halfway back and was unable to see exactly what was happening. While that is to be expected when
attending the theatre as a short person I feel the same effect could have been achieved if the ladies
were two paces further back and then everyone would have been able to see everything.
Lights. Without them there is only darkness and even darkness can bring its own significance. The
lighting team on the production, Designer Jason Harding, Assistant Designer Rory Fitzpatrick and
Technician Imogen Millhouse, have worked wonders with such a strange space and what seemed
so few lights with emphasis on the blues and reds. I particularly liked the lights along the front
that made the stage seem somewhat like a cage that we, the audience, were peering into with
voyeuristic intent. I did also appreciate the ambient haze that filled the room due to the smoke
machine however I did miss some dialogue due to the sound of it.
One man who cannot go without a mention is the multi-talented Michael Beh. Not only was he the
Director/Designer of this wonderful piece of avant-garde theatre but he was also Sound Designer
and one of the Costume Designers. This show is very remarkable and he should feel very proud of it.
I will admit that I had not read all of the original pieces of literature these characters came from but
that did not hinder my enjoyment of this play. In fact I think it may have made it better for me. I
found myself utterly intrigued by these characters and am now planning on reading the novels from
which they came to delve deeper into these fascinating femme fatales. The introduction of the
French language intermittently throughout the play was very interesting. I do not speak French,
however through the actor’s body language and movements we were able to understand them
Everyone involved in this performance should be commended. I was very impressed and am looking
forward to seeing what comes next from this company.