Imagine a musical devoid of choreography and bereft of high-kicks. No chorus lines, no green lady on a broomstick being winched to the rafters.
We may have lost some of you already, but for everyone else, read on: ‘play with music’ Midsummer, written by UK playwright David Greig with songs by Gordon McIntyre, is a darkly funny gem about an unlikely couple.
Opening this week as Red Stitch’s final production for the year, the play features company member Ella Caldwell and guest actor Ben Prendergast as a pair of frustrated 30-somethings who decide to embark on an intense, hilariously trashy affair after a chance meeting in Edinburgh.
“The rehearsals have been a pretty intense process, because it’s just myself and the two actors. We searched outside the ensemble to find a male actor who’d be a perfect fit for Ella. It’s a rom-com, so the chemistry needed to be just right,” director John Kachoyan told the Star Observer during a break in rehearsals.
A rom-com perhaps, but one with darker undertones than your usual Hollywood fare. Prendergast is Bob, a directionless divorcee who makes a living through petty crime. Caldwell is Helena, a highly paid divorce lawyer and serial bridesmaid with a taste for other people’s husbands.
“They’re two people who are a bit lost, and going about their lives in two very different ways. They’ve both hit 35, and they’re starting to ask all those questions – Is this it? Is this what my life is going to be? Have I expended all my chances? There’s a real pressure in our lives to have settled down, found jobs and houses by that stage, and they’ve reached the age where they’re starting to feel like they’ve left it too late,” Kachoyan said.
After a drunken one-night stand, the unlikely couple decide to embark on a wild weekend, funding their exploits with someone else’s fifteen thousand pounds.
“It’s about taking risks – risks in love, and risks in believing in people. It starts with people who are quite shut down emotionally, and through this crazy weekend they have in Edinburgh burning a hole through someone else’s money, they’re able to come together.”
And as for the music? Kachoyan assured us there was not a jazz-hand in sight, which makes sense seeing as the play’s songwriter, McIntyre, is also the frontman for Scottish indie-folk band, Ballboy.
“I think [Greig and McIntyre] wanted to do a bit of an ‘indie musical’, but obviously nothing as uncool as that sounds. There’s all these lo-fi songs that are really seamlessly part of the show – the songs push the story along really beautifully.
“The thing I love about the show is it has this sense that the characters might’ve put the whole thing together themselves, to try to tell everyone their love story.”
INFO: Midsummer, November 16-December 15, Red Stitch Actors Theatre. www.redstitch.net