Tag Archives: Off the Middle

Medicine – 3 Stars



The Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 16th August 2018


“There are some terrific, sharp exchanges between mother and daughter which both ring true and are very funny indeed”


Meghan Tyler, who wrote Medicine, and also plays Moira-Bridget Byrne in this production, tells us in the programme notes that she was inspired to write the play after listening to the song Medicine, by Daughter. It is a haunting song, and its influence is clearly felt in Paul Brotherston’s beautiful, spare production. The set is bare, other than an old park bench, but the subtle and insistent sound design (terrific work from Iida Aino) and the perfect, nuanced lighting (credit here to Will Alder) work in tandem to provide the ideal, understated backdrop for Ms Tyler’s three-hander.

The play takes place on a clifftop in Northern Ireland, and mainly consists of a long conversation between Ma Byrne and her daughter Moira-Bridget, who has fetched up there after a drunken night out. Tyler has a good ear, and the dialogue initially zips along, ably treading the tight line between believability and theatrical interest. There are some terrific, sharp exchanges between mother and daughter which both ring true and are very funny indeed, and the moon-cup section (yes, ladies and gentlemen, you did read that correctly) was a particular high-spot.

The play does lose pace about a third of the way through, and the writing begins to become slightly repetitive, but the ball is kept in the air by Lynsey-Anne Moffat, who excels as Ma Byrne, and is heartbreakingly convincing throughout. Possibly because, as the writer, she is very close to the piece, Meghan Tyler’s Moira-Bridget doesn’t ring as true, and the character seems less fully realised than those of her parents. The play’s denouement reveals a level of seriousness to Moira-Bridget’s plight which does not come across when we see her on stage, and it takes the achingly poignant final scene between Ma and Da Byrne to lend some emotional gravitas. Adam Best was wonderful as Da Byrne; it seemed a shame not to use his talents more fully. Ultimately though, the play is Ma’s story, which puts flesh on the bones of the song lyric: ‘You’ve got a warm heart, you’ve got a beautiful brain/But it’s disintegrating from all the medicine’.

Medicine marks a very good writing debut for Meghan Tyler, and there is clearly a wealth of talent in the cast and creatives who have realised it. It is a diverting hour for theatre lovers and proof that The Hope continues to thrive under Matthew Parker, as the OFFIES recognised last year, awarding him the Best Artistic Director title. Long may it continue.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Alex Fine



The Hope Theatre until 1st September


Previous production from Off The Middle
In Other Words | ★★★★★ | The Hope Theatre | March 2017


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Review of Lead Suspect – 4 Stars

Lead Suspect thespyinthestalls

Lead Suspect

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 18th July 2017





“Liam Mansfield is excellent as Scott the Scottish Terrier, the Sherlock Holmes of our story with a feisty attitude and a lot of tartan.”


Have you ever wondered what actually goes on in the mind of your canine friend? Does he interpret things the same way you do? Does she sense trouble a mile off? Do they know more than they are letting on?

lead suspect

Well fear not, as writer and director Stephanie Withers takes you on an intriguing journey of the notorious 2015 Crufts Dog Show poisoning, told from the perspective of our puppy pals.

‘Off the Middle’ is a theatre company dedicated to producing quality new-writing and creative storytelling. Liam Mansfield is excellent as Scott the Scottish Terrier, the Sherlock Holmes of our story with a feisty attitude and a lot of tartan.

Lead suspect

Both Stephanie de Whalley and Paul Hilliar switch between radically different characters throughout the performance, from high maintenance Fluffy the Chihuahua to ex Andrex puppy star Lucy the Labrador.

Withers, herself a huge fan of dogs, plays on all the stereotypes in this work. Fluffy’s line ‘people just love a dog they can pop in their handbag’ not only makes the audience laugh but allows them to imagine the sort of person who would own a dog like Fluffy. Are dogs really similar to their owners? Delving into the competitive politics of dog shows, our characters portray just how cut-throat these events can be and how far participants are willing to go to win or defend their titles.

Lead suspect

Highlights from the performance include the fantastic array of props (or should I say, many different sets of animal ears) the constant classic dog puns ‘barking mad’, ‘teach an old dog new tricks’ and one of my personal favourite scenes whereby our narrator, Scott the Scottish Terrier, is put on the spot to perfectly execute his dog show routine whilst preoccupied with questions about who poisoned Serena the Setter.

Can he remain a champion under all of this stress?


Reviewed by Stephanie Legg

King's Head Theatre thespyinthestalls



is at The King’s Head Theatre until 20th July



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