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Blogs and Mirrors: A Flawed Reflection

Michael Holgate's Blogs and Mirrors

Michael Holgate’s musical Blogs and Mirrors, produced by the University Players is an almost fairytale, a modern day retelling of Snow White.  There is much that is smartly done about Blogs and Mirrors and the play is occasionally quite funny, displaying a good sprinkling of witty dialogue. Blogs and Mirrors is an ambitious project but ambitions can be dangerous things often morphing into stumbling blocks, and while it could have recovered from that, the play is felled by the benign danger of good intentions.

In a cute tongue-in-cheek doff to Snow White, Blogs and Mirrors is the story of Ebony a young girl who has to try to make her way in life and live up to her father’s legacy upon his death. In this retelling, although there is a magical mirror the wicked stepmother is replaced by the shallow, ignorant and ineffectual Aunt B, who is appears to be modeled from Cinderella’s wicked stepmother. The play’s real villain is operating a lottery scam.

The three monkeysHolgate, is the writer, director and choreographer for Blogs and Mirrors and the play’s dynamic and engaging choreography  is one of its strongest elements. The movement associated with the three monkeys is particularly striking. 

The three monkeys, played by Marlon Thompson, Antonio Campbell and Gaybian Grizzle, act as a kind of chorus for the production and provide much comic relief. The play falls down where the other characters are concerned, as they are dramatically underdeveloped.

Ebony, played by Toni Blair, is as hapless as the fairytale princess on which she is modeled and the suggestion that she is about to become Jamaica’s answer to Arianna Huffington is not believable. 

Indeed, at first Blogs and Mirrors appears to be concerned about women’s issues, but this is soon revealed as a trick of the mirror, because the female characters are remarkably unlikeable. Ebony is bland and one keeps wishing that June (played by Tiffany Smith) would be carried off by the monkeys. The problem isn’t Smith’s performance, but rather that June is an annoying stereotype. The exception is Aunt B (portrayed by Shola Collins) whose inanity is delightful. Shola Collins  as Aunt B (left) and Toni Blair as Ebony

The cast generally delivered fair performances, but the characters lacked the chemistry required to make the romantic elements sustainably believable, only coming through at the end of the production.  Rudolph Tomlinson as Phil

Rudolph Tomlinson, who has the male lead of Phil Manken has more to offer as a singer than a an actor. His character was rather forgettable, but in fairness Prince Charming generally brought little to the story (though having a sword and a fast horse is a good thing). Desmond Dennis and Tiffany Smith

Blogs and Mirrors is conceptually interesting. In many ways blogs are the contemporary tools for self-reflection and while it has encouraged the democratizing of the media, they  can also be as dangerous as Narcissus’ pool. Alas, Holgate isn’t able to take this very far only making a cursory link between the two. While the attempts to use blogging as a motif is interesting, and so worthwhile attempts are made to comment on society via the staged blogs, the parts sum up to less than the whole.

With Blogs and Mirrors Michael Holgate attempted hold up a technologically enhanced mirror through which we could gaze to see our reflection. And though we can see ourselves, the cracks do cause some distortion and dampens its ability to edify and entertain.