by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre.
Soho Theatre 21 Dean Street W1D 3NE To 6 February 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Audio-described 28 Jan 7.30pm.
Post-show discussion 18 Jan, 30 Jan 3pm.
Captioned 26 Jan.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7478 0100.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 January.
Crime and passion in the city.
A digital clock on the wall of Georgia McGuinness’s set reads 21 June 2009. Midsummer, all right. But has the clock moved forward since the play was first seen, at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, in October 2008? For that would have made the setting a fanciful future time, with all the possibilities of change, rather than, as now, the recent past when all this might have happened.
No fairy flowers or Puckish tricks, and the lovers are making their own isolated ways through life, unlike those in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But the realism of their modern urban lives is set in Edinburgh, an idealised city to those not living with its daily traffic (and not from Glasgow), as much as Shakespeare’s Athens.
Nor are these mid-thirties people spring-chicken lovers; more a case of early-onset, midlife crisis across the social divide. Helena’s stuck with joyless affluence as a divorce-lawyer living in a Marchmont flat; Bob, known as ‘medium’ for having no distinguishing characteristics, is drifting into middle-age on the fringes of the crime scene, with a pad down Leith Walk.
So, a mix of the social levels of Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street reworked for the cool and almost young, and the terrain of Ian Rankin’s now-retired Inspector Rebus. Naturally, this being Edinburgh, they meet in a pub, or wine-bar (more likely yet), where she’s being stood-up by text and he’s cheering himself up on Dostoyevsky. Now, who do you think approaches whom?
Light and witty as David Gerig’s script is in his own, physically-alert production this is still the Greig of Suspect Culture ways, with much of the script being third-person report or comment, and swift switches between spoken and unspoken thoughts.
Gordon McIntyre’s songs are musically pleasant, while the lyrics add to the script’s textures. So do actors Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon, she lithe and bright, he making ordinariness wryly sympathetic. The energetic sex precedes the love on a set mainly a double-bed, everywhere else as anonymous as it is to the lovers, though a car-park paypoint spells-out the message their experience provides in Greig’s whirling world.
Helena: Cora Bissett.
Bob: Matthew Pidgeon.
Director: David Greig.
Designer: Georgia McGuinness.
Lighting: Claire Elliot.
Dramaturg: Katherine Mendelsohn.