Midsummer (a play with songs) – Project Arts Centre – Review
Dates: 22 May – 08 June
This play is set on a wet weekend in Edinburgh. We meet two unusual characters. Bob (Aidan Crowe) is a used car salesman/ petty criminal who is in a bit of a rut! Helena (Roseanna Purcell) is a divorce lawyer who lives life in the fast lane. They exist in totally different worlds and under normal circumstances would hardly notice each other. However, one Friday evening they both end up in the same wine bar. Bob is there for work and is feeling very out of place. Helena is there to meet her married boyfriend, who sends her a one-line text message to cancel their evening plans. That is when Helena spots Bob on the other side of the bar and decides to make his acquaintance!
This play is a collaboration between writer David Greig and singer-songwriter Gordon McIntyre. Scottish playwright Greig will be familiar to most of the theatre-going public in Dublin, for his works such Outlying Islands, The Suppliant Women, and the Glasgow Girls which have appeared on Irish stages in recent times. McIntyre is part of the band Ballboy and also has a solo career, with several albums under his own name and in collaboration with others.
Midsummer was written in 2008 and was first performed in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The play was a success and has been produced on many occasions since. This new production has the same director (Eoghan Carrick) and producer (Eoin Kilkenny) as the 2016 version of This Lime Tree Bower (with Peter Daly, Stephen Jones and David Fennelly) which appeared at the Project.
The set by Alyson Cummins is quite inventive. It is a constant shade of blue with a variety of boxes coming out of the walls and floor. One the face of it, it looks quite simple but all is not as it seems, as there is a variety of hidden doors and panels containing the props required for each part of the play.
As the title suggests, music plays a large part in the production. The two actors are quite adept with a variety of musical instruments with piano, guitar, violin, and ukulele all featuring. The songs serve as brief intermissions and often have quirky lyrics reflecting what is happening on stage.
This is a romantic comedy but definitely not a conventional one. David Greig has long since proven himself as one of the more creative and original writers on the world stage. His genre-hopping works are always entertaining and this is no different. The play sprawls in various directions as the couple explore their city on this lost weekend. The production does start slowly but the actors find their flow over the course of the performance. At 90 minutes, it is quite long for a work of this type but director Eoghan Carrick keeps the pace high throughout. It’s an unothodox love story which would be difficult not to enjoy.
Writer: David Greig
Music: Gordon McIntyre
Cast: Roseanna Purcell and Aidan Crowe
Director: Eoghan Carrick
Set and Costume Design: Alyson Cummins
Musical Direction and Sound Design: Sinead Diskin
Lighting Design: Eoin Winning
Producer: Eoin Kilkenny