The Mirror Effect

Posted in Audio by - August 04, 2018
The Mirror Effect

Released March 2003

In the derelict remains of the lost Grid 4 Mining Station, an ancient alien mirror known only to a few rests. Professor Bernice Summerfield finds herself trapped within that artefact in Stewart Sheargold’s ‘The Mirror Effect,’ alone and haunted by fears and reflections of her safe world turned against her and a small creature who desperately wants her to be her mother.

This third series of the Bernice Summerfield range has done well to begin to flesh out the dysfunctional familial dynamics that Jason, Adrian, and Braxiatel bring to Bernice’s life, and ‘The Mirror Effect’ wastes little time with bringing all of the major players unceremoniously into an underground mine with tempers already on edge. With Braxiatel clearly knowing more than he is letting on and secretly pursuing something that he won’t divulge as Jason and Adrian continue their fight for Bernice’s attention, the world around them quickly devolves into chaos and confusion where even the most steadfast assumptions about people and settings are proven wrong on a regular basis. In this respect, the powers of the mirror form a remarkably strong narrative device, probing the characters’ minds and honing in on their greatest fears to explore in great detail.

While this type of warped or mirror universe is by no means a novel idea, the execution is very streamlined and polished and allows the well-known characters to confront the aspects of themselves they would rather pretend do not exist. Jason still loves Bernice and wants her to need him like oxygen, murdering the faux version of Adrian after falling victim to his fear and rage when confronted with the prospect of Bernice not needing him. Adrian likewise pines for Bernice due to his species’s nature, but he fears that Bernice will only ever see him as a pet and that he may have scarred her. Intriguingly, no dark version of Braxiatel is revealed, and when Jason confronts him about this, Braxiatel hypnotises him to ensure he gives it no further thought. This only gives further merit to the intrigue crafted around the character here, positing that he has turned Bernice into a shadow of her former self, that he treats his friends like his exhibits, and that he pushed for and allowed the creation of Peter for his own gain. The entire story is quite convoluted even as Braxiatel appears to be the only one who can hold the world falling apart around them together, and this is arguably Miles Richardson’s strongest performance as the enigmatic Time Lord who so clearly has hidden motives yet, especially since it is his greed for the mirror and knowledge about its existence has resulted in so many deaths, knowingly or not.

The only true non-core character in this world of deception and distorted reflections is Beverly Cressman’s Doctor Carnivel who helps to introduce the nature of this setting in a somewhat disjointed fashion, but it’s the creature in the mirror that yearns to be reborn but that through the many centuries has lost all of the parts of itself it has sent out to make contact with someone who can help it that necessarily becomes the focal point. This being can only maintain sanity by contacting others, and it feeds off the emotions the reflections cause and takes part of an individual’s personality from each reflection and trip through the mirror to craft its own substance. Finding Bernice and learning of her recent motherhood, the creature chooses her to be reborn through, resulting in an intriguing debate about love and desire and just how Peter himself came to be. With Adrian bombastically proving his devotion to Bernice and Bernice rediscovering just how much she loves Peter following an engrossing turn from Lisa Bowerman as a darker version of her good-natured archaeologist, ‘The Mirror Effect’ uses its encompassing mystery and strong performances and direction to grand effect and gives the audience wonderful insight into the leads that the other characters are not afforded, setting up immense potential for future stories and certainly hinting at a darker secret at the centre of the Braxiatel Collection.

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