Sometimes more really is less. Ten years ago,  Midsummer first appeared at the Traverse, and it went on to become a resounding success, a sellout at the next year’s Fringe, and a Critics Award in Theatre prize winner.

It was an intimate story with songs, a two-handed performance by Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon, who narrated, acted, sang and played guitar through the tightly knit love story of a lost and found weekend in rainy Edinburgh.

Forward ten years and Midsummer is now official Festival, taken on by the National Theatre of Scotland under the direction of Kate Hewitt.

It has doubled in actors, having young and old Bob, young and old Helena narrating the story, and added a three piece band. The small stage set of the Traverse has quadrupled in size to the Hub. And in stretching the play in this way it has grown thinner, making less of an emotional impact.

Sarah Higgins and Henry Pettigrew are the unlikely couple both 35, at a crossroads in their lives, both staring at failure, who hook up for a picaresque wet midsummer weekend in Edinburgh with £15,000 of ill-gotten gains to squander.

Midpoint in life, midpoint in the year, “Change is Possible” as the pay machine at Johnston Terrace car park philosophically tells Helena. It’s as simple as that – chance encounters, chance remarks, a wild dash round the haunts of Edinburgh.

Eileen Nicholas and Benny Young are there as old Helena and Bob to join in the action and add their perspectives. Because of this, the edgy, uncertain outcome of the weekend is gone. What has been added, thanks to the Hub’s greater space, is far more physicality, with lots of dashing around the two levels of the venue in frantic movement. Knowing that Helena and Bob remain together adds depth to the story but takes away the magic unreality about the crazy time they spend together.

It’s still a lot of fun and imaginatively staged. From a trashed wedding table to a silver shower the visual impact is stunning.

The Hub until August 26th

Image credit: Peter Dibdin


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