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A CurtainUp London Review
Midsummer by Lizzie Loveridge
There are just two actors. Matthew Pidgeon is lanky Bob, a car salesman on the fringes of the city's underworld. He meets Helena (Cora Bissett), on the other side of the law, a high powered divorce lawyer with a sad penchant for married men, in a bar, "one of those cellar bars. A brasserie. Where lawyers go." Cora Bissett will take on many characters other than Helena, from her outspoken nephew to some of the low life individuals that Bob comes into contact with.
David Greig's zany script is lively and fresh with Helena and Bob narrating events as well as playing themselves and breaking into song as they strum guitars in accompaniment. Midsummer in Edinburgh sees only six and a half hours of darkness because it is so far north. In the course of this weekend, we live with Helena and Bob after their first mad, drunken night together through the weekend, when Helena, brought down by an almighty hangover, has to be a bridesmaid AGAIN to one of her three sisters. This will be the eighth time Helena has been a bridesmaid. Bob meanwhile has to sell a stolen pink convertible and get the cash to his underworld controller. Almost everything that can, does go wrong, and Bob and Helena go on a trip around Edinburgh stumbling into a fetish bar and hanging out with Goth teenagers.
Midsummer has plenty of laugh out loud moments as well as poignancy. The songs are fun and relevant, the characters believable even if the situations they find themselves in are imaginatively extreme, the action rings true and possible. Of course this has to do not just with David Greig's surefire direction but with two excellent, well honed performances. I loved the way Bob would describe what he thought Helena said, "How would you like to come back to my place and have extremely wild uninhibited sex with me?" and Helena would retort directly to the audience with a smile, "She so does not say that!" Cora Bissett as Helena is vulnerable and feisty, flirtatious and versatile. Her personality is warm, quirky and likeable. Matthew Pidgeon playing Bob has a frank and very funny conversation with his own cock which of course has a mind of its own. Matthew Pidgeon conveys Bob's essential modesty. The life assessment Bob has as a celebration of his thirty fifth birthday must strike a chord with thirty somethings reflecting on the passing of their youth.
There are clever directorial touches. When talking about the most terrible hangover, the house lights come fully on so the audience too feel the blinding, harshness of the light. We are given a map to help us follow where they go in Edinburgh and the location of the car park where Helena has left her car all weekend while the charges mount up astronomically. The bondage club sees the cast tied up, singing the "Japanese Rope Bondage" song, the extra dangerous titillation being the disappearance of the man who tied them up and who has to untie them . . . . The set is functional, the bedroom in Helena's flat almost filled by the double bed but adapts for other locations.
The storytelling, acting and direction in Midsummer is of such a fine standard I can't wait to see it again!
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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