Wednesday, April 11, 2012

MIDSUMMER (A Play with songs)

By David Greig and Gordon McIntyre

Canberra Playhouse until March 31st.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens
                                                     Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon

This gritty little play certainly has coarse language, strong sex scenes and adult themes. It’s definitely not a musical although it does have songs, and it’s astonishingly well-performed by Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon.

Bissett plays Helena, a cynical, lonely lawyer and serial bridesmaid who hangs out in wine bars, and several other characters who inhabit the narrative.  Her rich Scottish accent often makes it difficult to decipher her lines, but there’s no mistaking her body language.  Pidgeon plays Bob, a small-time crook who cheers himself up by reading Dostoyevsky’s “Notes from the Underground”.

 After Bob accepts Helena’s offer of a night of unbridled sex, no strings attached, they embark on a frantic relationship which includes a wild weekend disposing of 15,000 pounds which Bob should have deposited into a bank for an associate. The play skips back and forth in time, during which Bob finds himself musing on life after 35, and, at one point, engaged in a long conversation with his penis.

The Edinburgh Festival origins of “Midsummer” are obvious in the messy bedroom set, which, while appropriate, looks unattractive and makeshift on the playhouse stage.  But it’s  the freshness of the writing with its overlaid dialogue and quirky construction, and the skill and unflinching commitment with which the actors invest the appalling lives of their characters with warmth and humour, that make this a satisfying, if challenging, evening for anyone interested in experiencing  current British playwriting.   
This review appears in the digital edition of "City News" from 29th March