Review: Midden (Toronto Irish Players)


Five women in a kitchen make for steady-paced theatre in Toronto Irish Players’ Midden

My journey downtown to the Alumnae Theatre for Midden occurred in temperatures that shut down lesser burgs. Some people bring in their pets in this weather. I felt sorry for my thermometer and considered bringing it in.

Midden is about memories. In that quiet cold, my mind rewired itself. Before even seeing the set, I remembered the hockey arenas of my youth, the “barns”. In those days, every day was a newly polished playing surface.

Midden does the same. It is the story of five women representing three generations. The women rehash their history. They try to clarify their shared experiences as they dig their layers of shared memories.

Now somewhat older, there are games to remember and memories to discuss. Friends and family gather to sort them out. Our lives have become a hand of cards we play over and over.

Leaving the cold concrete streets and entering the theatre was like stepping back in time and into my grandma’s kitchen.

The set of Midden is an old Irish kitchen. I could relate to the table and the old stove. True to its origins in Fringe Theatre, Midden has a simple set.

This is the second production of the season for Toronto Irish Players. This is their 38th year. The Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce recently chose them as Irish Person of the Year. Obviously they are doing something right.

At the start of Midden, Ruth (Lucy Farrell), breaks into Dophie’s house. She stumbles through the kitchen window. Dophie is Ruth’s grandma. Ruth has just returned to Ireland after creating a hugely successful business in Philadelphia. Oh the freedom!

Cliona Kenny as Dophie didn’t remind me of my grandma, but she reminded me of a grandma. I loved Kenny’s acting. I almost expected her to come into the audience and offer me a cup of tea. Midden is that kind of intimate.

The acting of all five women was splendid. Pete, my partner for the evening, thought the acting the best part of the evening.

I loved Farrell as Ruth. She reminded me of Carla Connor from the British soap opera Coronation Street. Barbara Taylor as Ma also reminded me of my mom, if only my mom wasn’t insane. Speaking of Coronation Street, Midden reminded me a lot of that. The difference was that a male perspective was missing.

As a result, Pete and I found it really slow moving. We expected rapid-fire dialogue along the likes of Irish writers like Conor McPherson or Roddy Doyle. We felt excluded. It seemed to us that women loved the play and men were kind of indifferent. Women in general and moms specifically, will probably love the pace of Midden. The play felt to us like a Coronation Street stiletto broken on the cobbles.

Midden also explores the ideas of globalization. The old world, Ireland, and new world, America, both take their punches. It explores the homogenization and intersection of the two. Its message seems to be that family will always matter most. If only.

For our male ears, Midden has a pleasant, gentle tone. It’s like finding Katie Couric in a sea of Springer and Povich. I don’t like any of them, but at least Katie soothes.

That being said, Midden was a great kitchen to revisit.


  • Midden is playing at Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley Street) until March 9th, 2013.
  • Shows run Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 pm with Sunday Matinees at 2:00 pm
  • Tickets are $18-$20 and can be purchased online by calling 416-440-2888

Photo of the cast of Midden by Patrick Hodgson

One thought on “Review: Midden (Toronto Irish Players)”

  1. Thanks for the kind words George , and glad that you enjoyed the show.Spot on about the exclusion of the masculine. I view it this way, that it’s the difficulty these characters have with relating to a masculine (dynamic)energy that that keeps them metaphorically ‘stuck’ in, or returning to the kitchen, to old patterns of behavior.

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