Review: EEN

by Lynn on March 23, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Tett Centre Rehearsal Hall, Tett Centre, 370 King St. W., Kingston, Ont. Playing until March 25, 2023.

Written by Rosemary Doyle

Directed by Liam Karry

Lighting by Shelby VanLuvan

Cast: Rosemary Euringer

Siobhan McMahon

Kevin Head (on guitar)

When Rosemary Doyle is not full-filling her chores as Theatre Kingston’s Artistic Director, or also overseeing The Red Sandcastle Theatre, in Toronto, or directing productions or acting in them, she writes plays—when does this woman sleep?

Rosemary Doyle’s latest play is EEN one definition of which is a ‘diminutive’ suffix.

The play is described as a memory play. The play is about Tanya (Siobhan McMahon) and her Nan (grandmother) (Rosemary Euringer). Tanya has just graduated high school in Canada and it’s decided (by her mother) to spend the summer in Ireland, visiting her Nan, her maternal grandmother who she has never met. Through Nan, Tanya learns about four generations of women in her family and their secrets. She also learns the ‘joys’ of the outdoor privy; cooking on an open fire because Nan doesn’t trust the electric stove she has in her kitchen; the hard work required to take a bath in a steel tub that needs to be filled by hand with kettles of hot water, in other words, Tanya learns the joy of the simple life her grandmother lives.  Every second of the day is accounted for in stoking the fire, making the food, washing the stone floor until it’s spotless, emptying, filling, tending, and reading (Yeats as it turns out). Tanya learns that everything that is done by Nan requires effort, attention, thought and care. And because Tanya is a sensitive soul, she learns these important lessons.

Rosemary Doyle has written a play rich in memories, intricate histories, forbidden love, lasting love and loyalty. I must confess that at times I did get lost as to who was connected to whom and who lived where and with whom. But the tapestry of Nan’s life was complex and one just held on to make sense of it. The blossoming relationship between Tanya and Nan was lovely.

As Tanya, Siobhan McMahon is innocent but curious about this ‘stranger’ who is her grandmother. She is in a strange place, but she adapts with cheerfulness and willingness. It’s a lovely performance. As Nan, Rosemary Euringer is used to living alone and has to adjust when this young ‘stranger’ comes into her world. But Nan is kind, loving and intriguing to Tanya. That too is a lovely performance.

The full rehearsal room of the Tett Centre is almost taken up with the inside of Nan’s simple cottage. The fire is in the middle of the room; the stove is up stage, covered with a cloth and used as a counter. Tanya’s room is stage left. The ‘bathtub’ is down stage. A bicycle, the means of travel for Nan, is up stage ready for Tanya to use. One got the sense of a simple place, well used.

Liam Karry has directed this with efficiency and clarity. The relationship between Nan and her granddaughter are nicely established.

Musician Kevin Head plays appropriate music on the guitar as the audience files in, to put them in the mood. Songs of the time and place are sung during the show as well for effect. I must confess I found the inclusion of sound effects during one scene to suggest the problem of riding a bike a bit intrusive and unnecessary, but on the whole, EEN was worth the trip to Kingston.

Theatre Kingston presents:

Plays until March 25, 2023.

Running time: 90 minutes (no intermission)

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