Left – Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon. Cover – Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon. Photos – Lisa Tomasetti
Midsummer (a play with songs) is a show about growth. There are the characters you grow to love, the songs which throughout the play grow to make sense, the love story which swells and falls and peaks at just the right moments and the acute exploration of change in people which allows all of this to build together in perfect synchronicity.
The Scottish production, written and directed by David Greig with songs by Gordon McIntyre, is currently showing at Brisbane's La Boite Theatre. Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon (the production's original cast) play Helena; the emotionally haywire and emotionally unfulfilled lawyer, and Bob; the rather ordinary petty criminal hanging listlessly onto the outskirts of the Edinburgh underworld. Between them they tell the story of the two's meeting, their sav-blanc fuelled one-night-stand, and the fabulous adventure filled that was the "lost weekend" which followed.
Helena and Bob are bought to life beautifully by Bissett and Pidgeon, who perform with such vitality it is impossible not to be drawn in to their world from their very first grinned-faced song. The pair work beautifully within the text, playing effortlessly with comic timing and easily guiding the audience through the many twists and turns of the play. Whether they are snapping into the role of conference hosts at Bob's philosophical 'becoming middle-aged' mental-convention (wherein the audience must also snap into role of the attending 'Bobs') or melodically exploring the ironic metaphors of their hangovers, together they make the perfect hosts for this story.
What makes the show wonderful is the time that has been allowed to delve into the central theme of change. Dispersed throughout the play are key moments of truth-telling, and the from fun factoids presented about studies of the human decision making process to the poignant indulgence of watching a couple lie together in bed, these clearly defined stopping points in the play provide the backbone to an ultimately strong and touching piece.
This is a hopeful play, with its fair share of real-life grit on the side. An amalgamation of everything there is to love about musicals, rom-coms, crime drama, documentary and rooting for the underdog, it avoids cheese and tackiness to instead become substantial in its effect and sublime in its creation. Showcasing all that can be great within theatre writing, production and performance, Midsummer (a play with songs) will fill you to the brim with satisfaction and a great deal of happiness.
La Boite, Merrigong Theatre Co and Richard Jordan Productions present
The Traverse Theatre Company
Midsummer (a play with songs)
Writer & Director David Greig
Venue: The Roundhouse | 6-8 Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove
Dates: 13 - 28 Apr, 2012
Times: Tues & Wed 6.30pm, Thurs - Sat 7.30pm
Duration: 1hr 45min (no interval)
Tickets: from $28