Lost in Edinburgh
From Trainspotting to One Day, Edinburgh has played host to romantic criminals and the criminally romantic. Both of whom collide in David Greig’s play with music from 2008, "Midsummer," with music by Gordon McIntyre. A caper with too many conveniences, "Midsummer" contrives to present a diary styled love poem to Greig's native city. Yet under Eoghan Carrick’s direction "Midsummer" delivers less of a love poem and more of a rain soaked, ordnance survey map. Less personal diaries and more time stamped, time sheets. Showing less charm and laughter than its two impressive cast members are more than capable of delivering.
Like a pizza with too many toppings, "Midsummer" stacks too many flavours onto a standard base. One comprised of a boring boy meeting a beautiful girl leading to a will they/won’t they series of antics. For Bobby’s turning thirty-five, his cock with a conscience suddenly conscious of its age. Helena, a month older, is trapped in a secret she can’t admit to herself. As their realities clash during a one night stand, a dodgy car deal and a drunken bridesmaid give way to a big bag of money and a lost weekend. From a shibari session in a fetish club to goths performing a lobster dance, a sexually distracting Elmo to a naked nephew sharing secrets on the steps of a cathedral, choices come with unforeseen consequences. As toppings continue to pile up, life is reduced to a determinism of defeat where your decisions are made even before you make them. But is change possible for life’s loveless romantics?
Raising smiles more than laughs, Carrick’s workmanlike direction sees Greig’s clunky script, as well as McIntyre’s lacklustre songs, struggle within their constituent parts. Songs, a delightful celebration of the hangover aside, which serve as musical interruptions rather than interludes, like forgettable B-sides, adding little charm or interest. Aside from extolling the considerable musical prowess of an impressive cast. Alyson Cummin’s set reinforces the sense of awkward blocks with lots of hard edges, many cleverly rendered, trying to fit together as a cohesive whole. Something Eoin Winning’s midnight blue lighting tries valiantly to soften. But Greig’s script has far too many fractures, as well as being far too clever, for its own good. With shifting narrative focus, dialogue moving from action to commentary, screenplay references, and let’s not forget the songs, the end result is bits and pieces that don’t quite cohere into a truly workable whole. Even though some pieces, including a wild night of drunken, uninhibited sex, prove to be an absolute joy, with Carrick crafting some truly memorable, individual moments.
What elevates "Midsummer" into a truly enjoyably experience are its two delightful performances. Roseanna Purcell as Helena and Aidan Crowe as Bobby, musically and performatively, are the real pleasure, despite juggling too many responsibilities in a production that never quite gives them room to breathe. Even so, Purcell proves priceless and Crowe captivating in a heart warming production that might not cohere as well as it should, but has moments that frequently delight.
"Midsummer" by David Greig, with music by Gordon McIntyre, runs at The Project Arts Centre until June 8.
For more information, visit The Project Arts Centre.