Theatre Review: Midsummer
By David Greig and Gordon McIntyre
Silo Theatre, directed by Sophie Roberts
Q Theatre Loft
October 25, 2013
Clever, lively and funny, two-hander Midsummer is a refreshing take on the boy meets girl story. From the moment the lights come up Bob (Dan Musgrove) and Helena (Aidee Walker) are instantly and intimately engaged with their audience.
The play takes place over one weekend in Edinburgh. It really is midsummer, but the rain only occasionally lets up and the city is swathed in fog and mist. He is a petty crim; she is a lawyer with a drinking problem. Both are 35 and both feel that life is passing them by. Or is it, in fact that they have experienced too much of life? Too many lovers, too many drunken nights, and in Bob’s case, too many car thefts and dodgy deals? Known to his mates as Medium Bob, having no distinguishing characteristics, Bob is in a wine bar reading Dostoevsky to relax. Helena is alone, drunk, gazing at her reflection in a silver wine cooler and resolving not to spend the night alone. She picks Bob up, approaching him in several wild woman ways, each time ending with Aidee Walker addressing the audience – “She did not say that!” – until we see her real pickup line, the oft employed request to take the nearby empty seat. Used throughout the play, this filmic device of winding time back and forward so that characters’ intentions and desires are clear is very effective. Dialogue, asides, monologues and descriptive narration broadens the world of the lovers into the wider context of Edinburgh. Gordon McIntyre’s simply written songs are by turns humorous and moving.
Scottish accents are soft and cohesive; Helena and Bob are vulnerable and entirely believable. There are some standout sequences, one of them an hilarious sex scene only two hours after they meet. Bob’s monologue about stopping for a piss on the way home and finding himself concupiscent – demonstrated with the assistance of an Elmo toy – is also hysterical. Greig’s script makes some richly profound observations about the mores of this generation. “I love you is an aggressive thing to say,” says Bob towards the end of the play. The lovers discover how well they get on, agreeing on almost everything, but neither have any faith in romantic attachment.
Sophie Roberts’s sensitive direction gives structure and shape, although it does sag a little in the middle around a monologue focussed on Bob’s breakfast egg. Rachael Walker’s simple set of besmirched cobblestones does evocative service as streets, bridges, and hotel and apartment interiors.
It is the highly physical and polished performances from Walker and Musgrove that most resound in this production. Both sing the simple ballads movingly and with great relish, and both bring us the truths of these bumbling characters. At 35 they are mourning their lost youths, unaware that 35 is not old. Change is possible, the ticket machine in the carpark tells them. And it is.
Until November 25.