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Theatre Review: Midsummer ***

Michael Cox reviews a production that's a delight.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly ten years since the original production of Midsummer. David Greig and Gordon McIntyre’s love letter to Edinburgh, which follows divorce lawyer Helena and small-time hood Bob on a lost weekend of booze, sex and self discovery around the city, was an international success.

The most striking thing about this latest production for the Edinburgh International Festival, produced with the National Theatre of Scotland, is how ‘new’ it all is. The original was a two-hander, but this has been expanded to seven: two Helenas, two Bobs and a three-piece band who sometimes join in with acting duties.

And yet the true star of this particular production is director Kate Hewitt, whose production is a slew of concepts and visual metaphors. Many work, some don’t, but it is a visual treat from the get go.

And yet, as lush and fun as this production is, something is missing. Bigger isn’t always better—many of the script’s key moments are all but lost in the grand staging, and some of the potency of the song lyrics are ironically toned down through the larger orchestration.

But there is much to like. Many of the staging choices are fun, and the four main actors are very good—individually and as an ensemble. Seeing an older Helena and Bob might give away the (inevitable) fact they make it together, but the idea of them reminiscing on that weekend is nicely handled.

This might not be the breath of fresh air the original ended up being, but this Midsummer is still a delight.

Midsummer is at The Hub until August 26th.

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