Director: Joyce Nga Yu Lee
Reviewer: Helen Jones
Mind The Gap was formed in 1988, to create theatre and performances using a company of actors with learning disabilites. In their ideal world, learning disabled performers would be trained, employed and treated equally with their non-disabled colleagues, and given the standard of what they do they are working well towards that acceptance. Raising issues around learning disabilities and how these fit into a society which is often not tolerant of those who are different, makes for innovative and unusual theatre.
The Daughters of Fortune series of productions starts with Mia. Mia is pregnant, but she also has a learning disability. Several thoughts are going through her head. Can I afford it? Have I got room? Will I screw up? Unfortunately for Mia, she will have to go through a lot of official meetings before a decision will be made on whether she can keep her baby. Advocacy groups estimate that close to ninety percent of parents who have a learning disability will have their child removed from their care, fostered and eventually adopted with no hope of contact. Daughters of Fortune: Mia explores how Mia will be made to feel and the realities of parenthood for the learning disabled.
The four performers of the show all have their own learning disabilities, but they don’t let it stop them from putting on a thought provoking and informative piece of theatre. Each one plays multiple roles and all play Mia at some point. JoAnne Haines is a firecracker of a performer, with boundless energy and hugely charismatic. The other two female performers Alison Short and Anna Grey are quieter but give great depth to their portrayals of the various characters. The one male actor, Alan Clay, really comes into his own as the gameshow host of Don’t Drop The Baby.
However superficial these ideas appear, there is a serious underlying message to the show and Devisor/Director Joyce Nga Yu Lee has worked hard to make the meanings and reasoning behind the show easy to understand without pulling any punches as to how it affects parents who have learning disabilities. The audience are left with an empathy for parents put in a difficult situation through no fault of their own.
Mind The Gap always produce excellent and absorbing theatre, Daughters Of Fortune: Mia is one more to add to their list of shows that should be compulsory viewing.
Runs until 2nd November 2016