Edinburgh Fringe 2009
David Greig’s Midsummer is a play with songs, a slighter vehicle than his usual plays, but still one that manages to pack a powerful punch. That rarest of beasts, a rom-com with brains, Midsummer is set over the course of the shortest night of the year when divorce lawyer, Helena meets Bob, a man who’s waiting for a man with a car to sell.
Can you imagine a play where Trainspotting meets When Harry meets Sally? No, neither could I. But this is it – rom-com where you don’t have to leave your brain at the door. While this Edinburgh Midsummer Dream is often schmaltzy and is thoroughly romantic, there are also songs busked on acoustic guitars, frantic chases through the city, a gloriously played wedding debacle, the hangover from hell and just for somewhere to hang out (as it were) a night in a fetish club.
Helena and Bob are approaching 35, an age where you know that if you haven’t already played for Scotland, it isn’t going to happen. It’s midsummer night in Edinburgh; they’re sitting in a wine bar waiting for people who aren’t going to show. A divorce lawyer and a man caught up on the edges of Edinburgh’s criminal fraternity not a match made in heaven you would think. Wild uninhibited sex maybe, love certainly not.
A one night stand turns into a wild weekend romp where Edinburgh is the star. It highlights city low spots magically transformed by the transformational journey of love – the shelter in Princes Street garden with a reek of ammonia, a pub that does a great hangover cure breakfast for £5.95 and the car park at Castle Terrace that dispenses philosophical advice along with change.
Sharp observation, quick fire repartee and thoughtful insight make David Greig’s play a winner – I laughed until the tears rolled down my cheeks – and I wasn’t the only one. The songs, which pepper the play, are sometimes funny, sometimes wistful and always welcome. Midsummer is also well served by Georgia McGuiness’ versatile set. David Greig also directs and keeps up the pace and rhythm of the script.
Cora Bisset and Matthew Pidgeon are totally convincing as the odd couple, the two losers who become lovers. Unfair really to separate the two but Cora Bissett has a wonderful voice and does great comic caricatures of Edinburgh hardmen.
This is a play that casts its dream over you and makes you believe that change is possible.