Everything you need to know about 'A Mirror'

Sam Holcroft's ingenious satirical play, starring Jonny Lee Miller, has transferred to the Trafalgar Theatre in the West End.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

Can you believe anything about Sam Holcroft’s slippery new drama? After all, its posters proclaim that “This play is a lie”. That’s just the start of the twists and turns in this riveting theatrical journey, which uses the very form, and the audience, in its unpredictable exploration of storytelling and censorship.

A Mirror was hugely acclaimed when it debuted at London’s Almeida Theatre in 2023, and it’s now playing at the Trafalgar Theatre in the West End (that part, at least, you definitely know is true!).

It’s once again led by the fantastic Jonny Lee Miller, Tanya Reynolds, and Geoffrey Streatfeild, plus Samuel Adewunmi joins the cast for this fresh run of Jeremy Herrin’s witty, surprising, and sharply thought-provoking production.

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What is A Mirror about?

The simple answer is that it’s about a mechanic, Adem, who has written his first play. He’s called into the office of the director of the ministry of culture, Celik, who thinks Adem has potential – if only he can learn to write in the state-approved, patriotic way, instead of telling uncomfortable truths.

In order to help him, the minister introduces Adem to national treasure Bax, whose propagandist plays are much celebrated. Celik also has a new assistant, Mei: he secretly lends her banned books, even while he teaches her how to suppress free speech.

However, you soon learn that it’s not quite as straightforward as this initial premise seems. There are multiple layers to Holcroft’s play – including one involving the audience. We’re colluding in watching a forbidden production, and we have to keep an eye out for the secret police, and pretend we’re at a wedding instead.

Where is A Mirror playing?

A Mirror is playing at the Trafalgar Theatre in London’s West End. The Trafalgar is situated in central London, close to Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross station and Leicester Square. The recently refurbished venue has a mid-sized capacity of 630.

When can I see A Mirror?

A Mirror is running at the Trafalgar Theatre until 20 April 2024, so you still have plenty of time to catch it.

How long is A Mirror?

The running time of A Mirror is 2 hours with no interval.

What days is A Mirror playing?

A Mirror plays six days a week at the Trafalgar Theatre, with matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday, and evening performances Monday through Saturday. For the complete performance schedule and show times, visit the A Mirror page on London Theatre.

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Major productions of A Mirror

A Mirror had its world premiere at the Almeida Theatre in north London in 2023. It began previews on 15 August and ran through to 23 September. Jonny Lee Miller led the cast, and the show was directed by Jeremy Herrin.

The play transferred to the West End in 2024, beginning a fresh run at the Trafalgar Theatre on 22 January. It will continue until 20 April.

Who stars in the London production?

Jonny Lee Miller is reprising his role in the West End, once again playing the minister Celik. The British actor is known for his work on both stage and screen, including the movie Trainspotting, TV series Elementary, and his Olivier Award-nominated performance in Frankenstein at the National Theatre.

He’s joined by Tanya Reynolds (TV comedy Sex Education) as Mei, Samuel Adewunmi (Marvel’s Secret Invasion) as Adem, and Geoffrey Streatfeild (My Night with Reg at the Donmar Warehouse/West End) as Bax.

A Mirror characters

A reminder that these characters aren’t quite what they first appear! But here’s a primer to begin with…

Celik: The director of the ministry of culture – an important role in this unnamed totalitarian regime. He believes in the power of theatre to change minds, and thinks of himself as a benign censor working for the greater good, but also abuses his position.

Adem: A former army mechanic, who now works as a civilian and who has written his first play. However, he’s caught the attention of the state by writing candidly about the grim, sometimes shocking, lives of the neighbours in his housing block.

Mei: Like Adem, Mei is ex-military: she was a soldier on the front lines of a recent war. Now, she’s a newcomer to Celik’s ministry who knows nothing about plays or literature, and who starts to learn from him – and then shifts into questioning his methods.

Bax: The state’s golden boy, Bax has won fame and approval by churning out feel-good patriotic plays that make his country look great – even if it means twisting the truth. He’s brought in to mentor Adem, but instead Adem upends his life.

Who is in the A Mirror creative team?

A Mirror is written by Sam Holcroft. The British playwright has produced several well-received works, including Cockroach at the Traverse Theatre, and, at the National Theatre, Edgar and Annabel, The Wardrobe, and Rules for Living.

The production is directed by Jeremy Herrin. His numerous hit shows include This House, People, Places and Things (both at the National Theatre/West End), Labour of Love in the West End, and Best of Enemies at the Young Vic/West End. He also directed the Amy Adams-starring The Glass Menagerie.

A Mirror features original music by Nick Powell, performed live by cellist Miriam Wakeling, while the clever set and costume design is by Max Jones (Ulster American at Riverside Studios, All My Sons at the Old Vic, Noises Off at the Lyric Hammersmith/West End).

Fun facts about A Mirror

  • This is Jonny Lee Miller’s first time on a London stage since 2011, when he co-starred in Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch – swapping the lead roles of Dr Frankenstein and his creature.
  • There are all sorts of contemporary parallels you could draw with A Mirror’s provocative satire – including the current relationship between artists/theatres and bodies like the Arts Council and the Government.
  • Holcroft’s original inspiration for the play was a trip to North Korea that she took in 2011 with her husband and another playwright, Al Blyth – which she describes as “a piece of theatre like nothing I’ve ever seen”.
  • The wedding, an elaborate cover for this secret play, involves fantastic design elements, musical performances, and even chances for the audience to get involved. So, keep your wits about you!

How do I book tickets for A Mirror?

This must-see production – both politically urgent and brilliantly, surprisingly funny – is on at the Trafalgar Theatre until late April. Get booking now to find out all the secret twists of Sam Holcroft’s ingenious play, starring a never-better Jonny Lee Miller.

Book A Mirror tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo credit: the cast in A Mirror. (Photo courtesy of production)

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