Mary Zimmerman’s disappointing “Mirror of the Invisible World” caps a disappointing main stage season for the Goodman Theatre. With the exception of August Wilson’s “Radio Golf” and David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Rabbit Hole, ” the latter of which I neither saw nor reviewed, I just did not get Artistic Director Robert Falls’ twentieth-anniversary main stage season. Falls’ “King Lear” I will most remember for convertibles and copulations. Frank Galati’s “Oedipus Complex” was thrilling only if you were a graduate student with a double major in psychology and the classics. And now there is “Mirror.” Drawing from a twelfth-century Persian epic, the “Haft Pakar,” and relating seven romantic stories about seven princesses from China, Greece, Turkey, Africa, India, Persia and Russia, it has been hyped as an “inter-cultural conversation” with the Silk Road. But the experience ends up feeling as ethnically authentic as the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland, yet not nearly as entertaining. So while yes, “Mirror” is plodding, pretentious and badly acted—and its dialogue devoid of any noticeable poetry or magic—its greatest offense is surely in how it culturally castrates each of these legendary stories, cultures and peoples it tries to represent. “Hostile political rhetoric emphasizes differences and otherness, but masterful works of art speak to what is common in all human experience, allowing us to see ourselves in others,” Zimmerman has been quoted as saying. Fair enough, but does that mean a Goodman audience would not have been smart enough to recognize these tales’ familiar human threads without having to assimilate and homogenize everything on stage to the point where the only aspect separating each culturally specific vignette is the splash of color in which it has been dipped and candy-coated? Does “Mirror” really provide a wondrous journey into other cultures when it descends into Eurocentric physical playing styles such as “Three Stooges”-like farce? Like its main-stage predecessors this season, “Mirror” is more notable as a vanity project than as great theater. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
This production is now closed.