In this utterly delightful play, two mid-lifers – a female divorce lawyer and a man who is celebrating his 35th birthday in his normal dead-end capacity as a receiver of stolen goods for a gangster – hook up in a bar, go to bed for abandoned, semi-anonymous sex, and latterly go on a spree with the £25,000 he should be handing over to his distinctly unsavoury boss. The pair are playing wild hookey from their own ground-down lives and for the 90-odd minutes of this joyous production – directed by the play's author, David Greig – it's as if we too have gone Awol from our quotidian cares. You feel great afterwards, but you would think twice about condescendingly calling Midsummer "feel-good". It is several cuts above that dread epithet.
The twist is that the entire lost weekend is presented by just two brilliantly well-cast actors, a kind of double-act, but a double-act with a difference. They part-narrate their story; they make comically critical direct-to-audience comments on one another's utterances, exposing the subtext of remarks that are less than sexually honest or self-deceived. The excellent Matthew Pidgeon, as Bob, is a dab hand at this complicitous mischief with the audience. He can take one of the klutzy, nubile (and possibly pregnant) Helena's sentences and by putting the stress sexily on a different word, uncover a whole world of down-and-dirty desire.
Oh, and did I mention that the pair of them sing songs – lovely, plangent songs by Gordon McIntyre that give hinterland to the misfits-who-wind-up-matching rom-com antics. Like the double-act feel of the drama, these numbers often operate on the principle of paradox. They are duets only in the heads of the participants – and there is one particularly affecting song that teases out the gulfs that can still exist between people who are thrown together in a bedroom and the due distance that each person's dignity demands. We are all, essentially, alone, but it's best to be so with someone like-minded and like-souled. Cora Bisset is wonderful, showing you a woman who can show a man a good time while going through several shades of bad time within herself.
The script is beautifully written and immensely versatile. I particularly liked the moment when the fluffy pink toy whose voice startles the pair in their love-making becomes Bob's penis – stubbornly and vocally remaining erect when he is trying to have a pee.
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