Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Love, as Mickey and Sylvia declared in 1957, is strange. Half a century on, even the potency of cheap music hasn’t made it any less complicated, as David Greig and Gordon McIntyre’s joyous new play with songs makes crystal clear. Set during one long, lost Edinburgh weekend in which two people old enough to know better fall under the influence, into bed and possibly in something resembling a twenty-first century kind of love, Midsummer is a sad, funny and instantly recognisable rollercoaster ride through all the mess the mating game brings with it.
In a posh wine bar, Helena nurses a bottle of wine, while Bob reads Dostoyevsky in the corner as he waits for his low-level underworld connection. Beyond this unlikely pair’s one-night collision follows one almighty bender enabled by the proceeds of the sale of a stolen pink car, a conference in Bob’s head a la cartoon strip The Numbskulls and some not so minor epiphanies in a bondage club. All this is told by actors Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon using the same third-person techniques Greig used in his young peoples’ play, Yellow Moon, and punctuated by a handful of McIntyre’s lovelorn songs sung and played by Bissett and Pidgeon.
While on the surface Midsummer is the sort of throwaway rom-com film director Bill Forsyth might have once imagined, Greig’s lo-fi production is delivered with such knowing wit, panache and theatrical verve as to be irresistible and unmissable. As Helena and Bob contemplate the future, Bissett and Pidgeon sustain every madcap, self-pitying, disappointed nuance with unfettered verve in a delightful mid-life crisis re-awakening and bittersweet indictment of how we sometimes live now.
The Herald, October 30th 2008