David Greig with music by Gordon McIntyre
National Theatre of Scotland
The gloriously madcap Midsummer is now 10 years old and, such was its impact, that this new production from the National Theatre of Scotland is very welcome.
Where the original version might be likened to a kind of stripped-down, acoustic album, Kate Hewitt's revival is the high-powered, brash, electric band version.
Rather than an energetic cast of two, there are five actors (including a moonlighting member of the three-piece band) and a large-scale production takes place in-the-round with the actors making full use of a large space.
The simplicity has been replaced by sophistication, with much of the narration now taken over by Benny Young and Eileen Nicholas playing the main characters a generation on.
Where Helena, now played by Sarah Higgins, and Bob, Henry Pettigrew, told their own story, now it is recollected with wit by their older selves, considerably changing the balance of the 90-minute performance.
The tale that they have to relate is perfect for the Edinburgh Festival, being set in and around environs of the city.
The starting point is a meeting in an upmarket wine bar between jilted lawyer Helena and lonely petty criminal Bob, as unlikely a pairing as one could ever hope to see on a stage.
What starts out as an unbridled, drunken one night stand should have ended there but, coincidentally, fate brings the pair together in extremis.
By that point, Helena has embarrassed herself when she should have been the prim bridesmaid at her sister's wedding, while Bob is trying to escape from his murderous boss, eventually bringing a Tesco bag full with £15,000 in readies to the party—and what a party.
The high point of the evening comes when the duo set out to spend the money in one night, making numerous people very happy along the way.
Whether fans of the original will prefer the new bells and whistles version to their much loved favourite will depend upon taste. In any event, Midsummer is still an absolute joy to behold and will please audiences throughout the duration of the Festival, before, one would imagine, embarking on yet another sell-out tour.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher