Bob and Helena should not sleep together… they definitely should not sleep together. But when a petty criminal sneaks into the life of a freshly dumped lawyer, a 48-hour chance to challenge social scripts such as identity, motivation, love and commitment takes flight and two 30-somethings must come face to face with buried secrets.
With Midsummer, director Philippe Lambert creates a hazy dream-like production, transforming Berkeley Street Theatre into an artistic arena for an hour and a half of French wit.
From pregnancy scares and wedding catastrophes to low-ball crime and S&M clubs, the alternative romantic comedy will surely promise an escape from the frigid season.
Award-winning Scottish dramatist David Greig partners with top Edinburgh singer-songwriter Gordon McIntyre for the writing and music composition of Midsummer.
By bringing together immature and unconfident Bob, played by Pierre-Luc Brillant, and smug but emotionally broken Helena, played by Isabelle Blais, the performance reminds you of a time when you might have needed refuge as you bid a final farewell to your youth.
The two down-on-their-luck misfits narrate brutally honest thoughts, actions and motivations as they attempt to whimsically help one another overcome painful milestones like spending a 35th birthday getting a prostate checkup or ruining a sister's wedding because of sloppy drunkenness the night prior.
The characters candidly negotiate life through the play’s nine gritty folk songs about a variety of topics including love, breath and metaphorical hangovers.
These nine simple truths allow Bob and Helena to let their guard down one song at a time and foreshadow the growing tension between two very different people.
Both actors’ feathery plaintive vocal harmonies lend credence to audience approval.
The spot-on sound effects include rain, comedic slowed down church bells and a throw to green peace with pumped up '80s snippets.
Lambert exercises impeccable timing, by tracking progression through text messages.
Lighting director André Rioux ingeniously executes lighting transitions.
Shadows dance along the brick walls and the theatre transitions from subtle forest green hues and harsh iridescent red hues to brightly lit LEDs that run the perimeter of the stage.
Minimal costume changes occur as the two actors tactfully alter personalities, transforming into other characters such as Timmy Caliaghan, an amped up witchier vamp version of Geddy Lee and old man Thompson, a security guard with lively eyebrows and a beer gut.
Lastly, the most entertaining minor character is the babyish Brendan, Helena’s 12-year-old hypochondriac nephew who mimics a smaller, juvenile version of Bob.
There are several jocular moments, such as the fully clothed roaring sex scene that is almost cut short due to the audible muses of Brendan’s toy Elmo left behind.
At one point, the audience is given the opportunity to see into Bob’s somewhat shallow and scatterbrained thoughts.
These are presented through humorous ambient noises and reverb on random throws to miscellaneous food items such as eggs.
The play’s final comedic tease comes from the shadow puppet show car chase and deadly altercation between Bob and a head mafia member.
While this scene was a little amateur, it did leave the play on a lighter note. Unlike most romantic comedies, Midsummer has just enough sass without the sap.