Midsummer: A play for pessimistic thirty-somethings
Midsummer by David Greig with soundtrack by Gordon McIntyre
Directed by Sophie Roberts
Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen Street
Until November 23
Midsummer opens in an Edinburgh bar on Midsummer’s night. Bob is turning 35 but he has no friends, so there is no celebrating, just him reading Dostoyevsky. It doesn’t really matter and, as he has “no distinguishing features,” things are not going to get any better.
That is, until Helena, a divorce lawyer who was 35 last week chats him up - she actually wants to demand sex but she is too much of a lady or drunk to be that direct.
Then after an unsteady drunken courtship they engage in the wild uninhibited sex that their stream of consciousness had been telling the audience was what they wanted to do even though they didn’t think much of each other.
It’s at this point that the audience is treated to an almost live sex performance, certainly lively and noisy. Bob and Helena try really hard to be uninhibited but they are a bit too drunk and a bit too self aware to have the glorious romantic sex they had hoped for.
From there on it becomes something of a picaresque adventure as hero and heroine (or anti-hero and anti-heroine) go on their separate and combined adventures. Drunken Helena trying to get to her sister's wedding and Bob attending to one of his petty criminal jobs.
In the course of the adventures Bob becomes the possessor of ₤15,000, money he is supposed to pass on to Tam, the local Mr Big. But in the spirit of the moment, fuelled by the passion of their lovemaking and their pessimism about life the pair decide to do something important in their lives. Like spend the ₤15,000 in a day. This has many consequences.
The play is a mixture of dialogue, replayed dialogue, stream of consciousness and musical interludes or commentaries where the two characters pick up guitars and strum along like a Greek chorus commenting on their disastrous lives. They also pick up another half dozen characters who they manage to play effortlessly.
These interludes provide brilliant asides to the play which can probably be read as a parallel commentary on Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night’s dream. It is a superbly structured, elegant piece of theatre which deals with big questions in a light manner.
First produced at the Traverse in 2008, Midsummer was a smash hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It won four Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland in 2009, including best play and best production.
Aidee Walker as Helena gives an intelligent performance which hints at the confusions, disappointments and desires of a woman searching for answers
Dan Musgrove as Bob gives a lively performance as the depressed Bob with some brilliant sequences such as his discussion with his penis – actually a bright red Elmo doll, about his ambivalence around sex and relationships
This is just the play for depressed thirty-somethings who are in dead-end relationships and going nowhere jobs.