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Review: A Mirrored Monet at Greenside @ Nicolson Square – Ed Fringe

Review by Olivia Ruggiero


A Mirrored Monet is beautiful and elaborately written new musical based on the diaries and letters of the French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet. This stunningly composed new musical is reminiscent of Sondheim in it’s complex and luxurious melodies, with a twinge of Boubil & Schoenberg occasionally in the sweeping melodic lines and divine harmonies. Writer, Carmel *** has treated us here to a new work that is sheer brilliance and a breath of fresh air in the genre of contemporary musical theatre. It harks back to a time in the theatre world that was simplistic and allowed the narrative and score to let the actors shine and the work to move the audience.


This adaption of course is simplified for the Fringe stage, but the use of projection across Monet’s canvas and the screen at the back of the stage is genius. It seems at times that the paintings are coming to life under the brush of Monet himself or being bought forward under the glimmering surface of waters – it allows the works of the French Impressionist painters to live freely in the minds of the audience with new relevance and context.


The male voices in this show are astounding. Young Monet and Renoir are exemplary performers and have riveting stage presences. The dynamic between this cast is fresh and exciting – particularly between Young Monet and his friends. Camille has quite a lovely legit voice but her belt can be shrill and harsh – it starkly contrasts to her glorious soprano. The show certainly belongs to Old Monet though – whilst he may not have the best voice in the show, his acting ability, engaging stage presence and his ability to stay present during the entire show is phenomenal. He is captivating and completely entrancing as Monet. He captures the very essence of a tortured artist, struggling to find creative inspiration and feeling haunted by his youth. A stellar performance.

A highlight of the show is the duet between Young Monet and Old Monet – a coming together of minds and a moment where you can clearly see how Monet ended up the way he was. How he became “Monet”. It’s brilliantly composed and sung to perfection by the two performers.

The toggle between times is handled well in this musical, which has a very strong book, and a good grasp of what it is trying to achieve. It’s rare to find a really good book in a new contemporary musical but this particular show is incredibly strong in its narration and clear storyline. Moreso, we can grasp some good character development which is awesome to see. The only part of the story that I can see that could use more space to grow, is the death of young Bazille, it feels like this moment could be more of a pang to the audience with a little more time put into the development of his character and how his death is revealed.


All in all, this is an exceptional and rare new piece of theatre. I hope that A Mirrored Monet finds a life outside of Fringe, where luscious orchestrations can be explored and full staging can be achieved - I know I would be an eager audience member, waiting to see this realised.

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