Travers Company
MIDSUMMER (A play with songs) By David Greig

Dates and Venue 3-12 September 2009 | The Cultch, 1895 Venables, Vancouver

Director David Greig Songwriter Gordon McIntyre Designer Georgia McGuinness Lighting Claire Elliot Dramaturg Katherine Mendelsohn
Stage Manager Sarah Scarlett

Reviewer Kim Alison Fraser

Thursday night’s performance was nothing short of a new Cultch classic. We got three shows in one: the venue itself is a stunning soliloquy on all the centenarian Methodist church turned legendary Vancouver theatre has experienced; Executive Director, Heather Redfern gave an Oscar-worthy monologue full of effusive gratitude, voice cracking to yield tears, and girlish shoulder shrugs in response to spontaneous applause egging her on; and the brilliant Edinburgh Fringe Festival hit Midsummer.

The stage looked like a giant chalkboard covered in graph paper with chalk outlines and child-like drawings. The set was comprised of a dress, three guitars (two acoustic, one electric), a bed and two chairs. A man and a woman enter from opposite sides of the stage, and each begins to strum acoustic guitars, singing: “Love will break your heart, love will break your heart in two. Love will break your heart, there’s nothing that you can do.”

Bob and Helena are miserable lovelorn 35-year-olds who meet in a bar on a rainy mid-summer night. He’s a petty thief waiting for direction from his crime boss about where the next hit takes place, and she’s a divorce lawyer whose been stood up by her married lover yet again. They randomly choose one another to forget about their middle-aged angst, abandoned teenage son, and a pregnancy in a weekend of drunken debauchery.

An ingenious use of third-person omniscient narration, songs, and scene re-enactments for comedic value had the audience toe-tapping, singing along, laughing and crying. Members of the audience even participated in Bob’s interior dialogue by asking Bob questions about how he should deal with middle age.

Midsummer is a raw, irreverent and unforgettable piece of indie theatre that cannot be missed. It was first performed at Scotland’s Traverse Theatre in October of last year, and has toured Ireland, Scotland, and Canada since June of this year.

© 2009 Kim Alison Fraser