The Mirror Game is based on Marissa Flaxbart’s play A Mere Conception, which is the superior title. Directed by William J. Stribling, the first third of this intimate drama is quite rough. It begins with Rose (Teya Patt) entering a hotel room in Las Vegas. She’s frustrated that there’s only one King bed instead of two doubles like she wanted. Eventually, her childhood friend, Abe (Michael Tennant), arrives. The two just so happen to be in Las Vegas at the same time as part of separate bachelor/bachelorette parties (though their itinerary is almost identical).
Here’s where the issue comes in. Abe is always on, to the point of utter and absolute irritation. Viewers have yet to learn why the calmer Rose would still be friends with this putz for so long. What she gets out of this friendship is not clear at all. Abe asks about going out onto the town. Rose says she was hoping they would just relax and hang out in the hotel room. Abe instantly launches into a diatribe about how that is great because Las Vegas offers glitz, but it is all fake (not a direct quote). In that or a different long-winded white noise speech that makes anyone watching wish they could reach through the screen and punch the male protagonist in his smug face, Abe says something patently false.
Abe states that the wonderful thing about his and Rose’s relationship is that he doesn’t need to be “on.” But for the first half of The Mirror Game, he is always on to the point of repelling potential audience members. No one could fault any moviegoer for stopping the film then and there and promptly moving on with their lives. Yes, Abe is that bloody annoying.
“Rose asks Abe a favor. A favor so monumental that it will forever alter their relationship…”
Now, prepare for the kicker, so to speak. There’s a reason Abe is obnoxious. See, a lot of the plot concerns Rose breaking down Abe’s walls, walls he might not even know he put up. Rose asks Abe a favor. A favor so monumental that it will forever alter their relationship and lives. Without spoiling anything, to get an idea of what it is, reread the name of the play (again, it is a superior title).
As frustrating as Abe is, that is due to the writing, not the actor. Tennant is good in the role; maybe a little too good, given how recoiling he makes the character. However, as the story wears on and he wears down, Tennant reveals himself to be a human, not just a philosophical automaton adjusting his values based on his current company.
But really, The Mirror Game is a vehicle for Teya Patt, and she delivers. By turns heartbreaking, sweet, charming, and coldly matter-of-fact, the actor shines no matter what is happening. She has an ending speech, recited to Abe, that hits every emotion center possible. It’s a stellar performance and one that should land Patt any production she wishes.
The Mirror Game is made by its two lead performances (there is literally only one other person in the cast). Tennant and Patt are excellent together, sharing a believable bond. Yes, Abe’s dialogue goes far too hard at times early on, turning him into a hyperactive cartoon rather than a human. Eventually, that gives away, and a poignant story about two friends at a crossroads is left.
"…a vehicle for Teya Patt..."