Cracks Appear In The House Of Mirrors And Hearts

By Savannah Whaley Last edited 32 months ago
Cracks Appear In The House Of Mirrors And Hearts ★★★☆☆ 3
Gillian Kirkpatrick as Anna in The House of Mirrors and Hearts. Photo by Darren Bell.

Londonist Rating:

★★★☆☆

Dark secrets hidden beneath the surface of family life are the subject of Eamonn O’Dwyer and Rob Gilbert’s dramatic musical, The House of Mirrors and Hearts.

Switching between the idealised ‘before’ — when the kitchen is full of sunlight and two girls at the centre of the story are young and innocent — and the gritty present day, the production sways between moving and mawkish — tending, unfortunately, more towards the latter.

The plot involves the unravelling of a web of secrets after literary scholar Nathan (Jamie Muscato) starts lodging with Anna (Gillian Kirkpatrick). Anna’s two daughters, shy reclusive Laura (Grace Rowe) and sex-obsessed Lily (Molly McGuire) are, no doubt about it, very differently damaged by the death of their father seven years earlier. Tensions soon rise and the drama is played out under the haunting presence of David (Graham Bickley), the ‘other lodger’.

The story is compelling and the live musical score makes for an affecting atmosphere, however clichés abound and Kirkpatrick’s performance veers from powerful to overbearing. She plays a caricature of a widowed woman, which sets the tone for a cast who perform competently, but all fit somewhat too easily into stereotypical types. McGuire, as the younger sister vying for attention by acting way beyond her years, steals the show. Her voice is powerful and her character, whilst in some ways predictable, is the most varied and intriguing.

The set is fantastic, although the intimacy of the Arcola studio ups the intensity of the show a bit too much, since it's a musical, that tension doesn’t need much heightening. The story is intriguing, however, and as the mysteries slowly unfold, the audience is left second guessing and eager to find out just what happened behind the closed doors.

By Savannah Whaley

The House of Mirrors and Hearts runs at the Arcola Theatre until 1 August. Tickets £19/£15, Saturday Matinées 3pm £17/£14 (except 1 August £19/£15). Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 09 October 2015