Mia: Daughter of Fortune

Wed 9th – Sun 27th August 2017


Constance Kampfner

at 12:51 on 21st Aug 2017



The only show of its kind at the Fringe, ‘Mia: Daughters of Fortune’ is Mind the Gap’s latest project. Mind the Gap is a theatre company made up of actors with learning difficulties and their new eye opening show offers a rare insight into the pressure faced by expecting parents with such disabilities. Often patronised and ignored, they are left with little control over the fate of their child.

For parents with a learning disability it is the social worker that holds all of the power, able as they are to have a child removed within the space of an afternoon. In an upsetting scene, we see Mia (JoAnne Haines) bombarded with questions forming part of an aptitude test to assess her parental capabilities. Haines’s acting here is superb; we see her growing panic and bewilderment as she is interrogated on everything from child nutrition to changing fuses, the absurdity lying in the fact that most mothers would not be expected to draw a diagram of the inside of a plug weeks before giving birth. The production highlights this kind of continual mistreatment of disabled parents who are more often than not bullied, rather than helped, along the path of pregnancy. ‘And to think stress is bad for the baby’ quips Haines.

What makes this production stand out however is the richness of its comedy, despite the seriousness of the issues which it raises. From the moment they greet you at the door, the whole cast are bubbling with an infectious energy which never wanes. What could be a better icebreaker for this show than one of the opening lines: ‘We did it in the disabled loos’. Indeed in a refreshing portrayal of disability we see all four members of the cast delight in their sexuality. The sultry melange of noughties pop routines – including ‘My Humps’ and ‘Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me’ – was a personal highlight and drew huge laughs from the audience.

There are some brilliantly inventive uses of technology throughout the performance, including a live streamed camera manipulated by Alison Colborne which, as it hovers just above the floor, gives the baby’s perspective. Throughout the production screens play a crucial role by highlighting the discomfort of a parent with learning disabilities, constantly assessed and scrutinised. This also subtly places the audience in the position of the voyeur and asks us to reassess the ways in which we might judge others from afar.

This is a deeply moving and informative piece which tackles an issue that I for one had not properly thought about before. Leaving the show with a newfound awareness for the uphill battle faced by disabled parents, as well as a grin on my face, the animated discussions I could hear behind me indicated that I was not the only person to take something away from ‘Mia’.


Adele Cooke

at 13:15 on 21st Aug 2017



Mind The Gap’s production of ‘Mia: Daughter of Fortune’ is engaging, informative and successful in its discussion of learning disabilities and parenthood. It combines humour and fact to create a highly compelling show. The play focuses on Mia, a pregnant woman with a learning disability whose ability to care for her child is questioned frequently throughout by many sources. The audience are encouraged to participate by questioning “who has the power?”, the hospital midwife, social worker, health visitor and others in the raising of her own child. Opening the discussion for the 7% of adults with learning disabilities who are parents, this play highlights that 40% of parents with a learning disability have their children removed. But is this fair? This discussion is not only informative, but at times highly comical, with highlights including a mock game show ‘Who dropped the baby?’, miming to The Pussycat Dolls and dancing to Britney Spears.

I particularly enjoyed the performance of JoAnne Haines, whose lively personality translated wonderfully on stage, and was especially showcased in some of the interpretative dance sequences. However, the entire cast were brilliant in their synchronisation during dance sections, which were especially effective in the opening scenes. Other successes included the incorporation of footage of Mia and her healthy baby, reaffirming the show’s message. The show is grounded is research from Dr Kate Theodore, about the feelings of not being “good enough” or having to “prove” themselves experienced by parents with learning disabilities.

With regard to production, I greatly appreciated the use of video camera equipment, for example to replicate the perspective of an infant. This was both imaginative and effective, as the audience witnessed a new perspective in this ongoing debate- that of the child. I was also impressed by the audience participation, especially when I was asked to go on stage. This encouraged me to consider the expectations of a new mother, and therefore how horrifying it must be to lose your own child, a reality I had never considered. This show was informative and insightful, humorous and heart-warming, and another great success in Mind The Gap’s ‘Daughters of Fortune’ series.


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