Midsummer is one of the greatest productions I have seen in recent years.
Those familiar with my work know that I am not one bent towards hyperbole. But I have had 10 months to mull this one over, and upon seeing it a second time last weekend I found it to be funnier, more moving and with greater poignancy and social relevance than I had remembered. And it’s rare for a second showing of a production to impress me more than the first, especially when I loved it as much as I had the first time round.
The play follows two characters through a ‘lost weekend’ during midsummer in Edinburgh. Helena is a divorce lawyer who’s already in a fling with a married man and is disillusioned about love and relationships. Bob has just turned 35, is a petty criminal and is wondering what has happened with his life. The two actors, Cora Bisset and Matthew Pidgeon, not only play Helena and Bob but also play the other people that these two characters encounter and narrate both the whole tale and inner thoughts. And, to top it all off, they also sing and play guitar to songs that underscore everything.
David Greig’s script is far richer and full of much more humanity and insight than at first glance. It actually probes some rather serious subject matters but does it with such great joie-de-vivre that one never feels like they are being lectured or watching a morality tale. And Gordon McIntyre’s music and lyrics not only match Greig’s writing style but stand on their own as excellent, and frequently funny, pieces.
And this is a play of its time. Filled with local references and a modern flavour, it feels as if this is a production that came about perfectly, at the right place, with the right people and at the right time. Maybe it won’t work as well a few years down the line, and maybe it won’t click as much without either Bisset or Pidgeon playing the parts or without Greig’s direction or Georgia McGuinness’s set. Who knows, and frankly who cares. It is a superb production that works on every level that a drama can work on, and I feel thankful and all the richer for having seen it.
It may already have sold out, but Midsummer is a one-of-a-kind production that comes along rarely. It’s worth queuing for tickets in hope of returns, and it is more than worthy of this revival that it has graciously been given. Simply sublime.
Currently playing at Traverse 2 until August 30.
Filed under: Edinburgh Festival 2009 |