REVIEW: Midsummer, Mercury Theatre Colchester ✭✭✭✭✭

Paul T Davies reviews Midsummer at the Mercury Theatre Colchester.

Ross Carswell, Karen Young and Company. Photo: Pamela Raith

Mercury Theatre, Colchester.
8 May 2024
5 Stars

Edinburgh. City of beautiful architecture, rain, Fringe extravagance and lost weekends. Now, a slice of Edinburgh comes to Colchester in David Grieg’s excellent Midsummer, and it triumphs. Bob and Helena are two strangers, each with a secret, out on the town on the Friday night of Midsummer. They start off as not particularly likeable characters, he a small-time crook involved in car stealing, she on the run from a secret, drinking heavily. But we have an advantage in two narrators, who not only guide us from location to location in the city, but tell us their real thoughts, and the music by Gorden McIntyre captures every mood and emotional swing. I can’t resist a double entendre, so I will say I loved Bob’s Cock and leave you to book and find out the context!

Midsummer Mercury Theatre
Company of Midsummer. Photo: Pamela Raith

The cast are extraordinary, and perfectly matched, and it feels they are in the middle of a West End run, not at press night, they are in perfect harmony. As Bob, Ross Carswell captures perfectly the hapless man, caught up in a system he wants to get out of, but with the right amount of shade and darkness and likeability. Karen Young is an excellent Helena, late for her sister’s wedding, despairing in her bridesmaid dress, but taking up Bob’s offer of spending a bag full of cash and grabbing the chance to make memories. The outstanding cast is completed by Will Arundell as Narrator 1 and Laura Anderson Guimaraes as Narrator 2, both multi rolling with ease, seamlessly picking up different instruments, (the cast are hugely talented), and the music ranges from comedy songs, (Bob’s Cock!) to poignant reflections with a gorgeous Eddi Reader vibe, (Love Will Break Your Heart). But the play’s the thing, and the script reveals huge back story and poignancy as it goes along, and you fall in love with Bob and Helena.

Ross Carswell and company. Photo: Pamela. Raith

The fifth character is Libby Todd’s astonishing set, capturing perfectly that beautiful city, with drawers of hidden delights and revelations throughout, in perfect synergy with Rory Beaton’s lighting design, and the sound design by Mark Melville is perfect. Director Ryan MacBryde gives full rein to inventiveness, and the production is perfectly paced, and unashamedly romantic. We may not all have had a weekend like Bob and Helena, maybe not with Japanese rope bondage, but Change is Possible. A gorgeous, unmissable production.

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