Friday, July 29, 2016

Review of "Midsummer"

Opposites supposedly attract and in Midsummer, the quirky, charming romantic romp at Theaterworks, you couldn’t find two more different people then 35 year-olds Bob (M. Scott McLean) and Helena (Rebecca Hart).  Bob is a petty criminal.  Helena is, on the surface, a more buttoned downed divorce lawyer.  Their lives intersect one rainy night in a wine bar, which begins an odyssey of inebriation, lust, adventure, and maybe even love.

The action in the two-character play, which takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland, focuses both on each individual’s out-of-control and disorganized life as well as the continual chance meetings of the two protagonists.  These coincidental encounters, funny and poignant, eventually lead to a 24-hour, no-holds barred bender through the streets, clubs, and nightlife of the city.  The following day decisions are made that possibly shine some balance and direction to Bob and Helena’s topsy-turvy world.

Playwrights David Greig and Gordon McIntyre have written a well-crafted story of two lonely, seemingly dissimilar persons that, at the heart of the tale, are really no different from each other.  The characters are frisky, full of faults but, nonetheless, endearing.  No matter what the circumstances that befall them, which includes a run-in with a local mobster, you cheer for their happiness and well-being.  The play is also a meditation on taking chances at a certain point in life, not necessarily settling for one’s situation.  The show is enhanced by songs, interwoven into the plot, that the playwrights have composed.  The two performers who accompany themselves on guitar and ukulele cheerfully sing these musical interludes.  They serve as commentary for the high jinks on stage and the character’s innermost thoughts.

M. Scott McLean as Bob and Rebecca Hart as Helena are both fine actors with believable Scottish accents (kudos to dialect coach Gillian Lane-Plescia).    There is an easy rapport between them, which gives their performance a realistic luster.  They skillfully probe the despair in their characters, but also infuse them with humanity and playfulness.  They are also accomplished musicians and vocalists.

Director Tracy Brigden keeps the dynamics fluid, which keeps our attention and interest focused on the actors center stage.  She nimbly mines the story for its subtleties and outrageousness, creating a wholly satisfying theatrical piece.  Brigden also adroitly weaves in the jaunty songs without upsetting the rhythm of the production.

The set, minimal up front, with only a small platform and a couple of chairs, is a hoarder’s dream at the back end of the stage, with tables, chairs, and other assorted bric-a-brac piled high.  It’s a somewhat whimsical observation on the machinations of the player’s lives. 

Midsummer, a midsummer treat, playing at Theaterworks through August 21st.

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