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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Friday, October 31, 2008

Midsummer (a play with music) review

© Mark Fisher - published in The Guardian

Midsummer
Traverse, Edinburgh
3 out of 5

It is not every day you see a raucous pop musical set on the streets of Edinburgh. But right now, there are two. Later this week, Stephen Greenhorn's Sunshine on Leith returns to Dundee Rep, offering a joyful soap opera of ageing, adultery and falling in love, set to the songs of the Proclaimers. But first we have Midsummer, with similar themes, by playwright David Greig and musician Gordon McIntyre, of indie band Ballboy.

Where the Greenhorn show is big, brash and primary-coloured, Midsummer is scuzzy, delivering comedy, pathos and romance with a lo-fi aesthetic. Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon, playing bar room strangers whose one-night stand turns into a lost weekend, don't so much perform the songs as busk them on acoustic guitars. The simple soundtrack matches the rough-and-ready immediacy of Greig's tale, in which this Bonnie and Clyde redistribute £15,000 of stolen cash on the shortest night of the year.

In its storytelling style it recalls Greig's children's play Yellow Moon, and has a similar what-happens-next appeal. In theme, it is as if we have caught up with two twentysomething characters from Timeless, Greig's first contribution to the Edinburgh festival in 1997. In that play, they struggled to find a perfect moment in a fast-moving world; 10 years on, Bob and Helena still feel life is passing them by, but their sense of impotence is intensified by mid-life panic.

Greig, who also directs, drives the show forward with knockabout humour and a happy complicity with the audience. The lovable leads deserve their happy ending, and the evening offers the private pleasure of a rare indie B-side.

© Mark Fisher, 2008

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