Theatre review: Midsummer, The Hub

Eileen Nicholas and Benny Young join the cast for this update. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic
Eileen Nicholas and Benny Young join the cast for this update. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic
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When David Greig and Gordon McIntyre’s Midsummer first appeared, in the financial-crash autumn of 2008, it was a gossamer-light, almost throwaway show playing in Traverse 2, while more heavyweight plays occupied the theatre’s main stage.

Midsummer, The Hub (***)

There were just two inspired actors, a couple of guitars, a script, and some songs; but in a gloomy November, the show’s shoestring style seemed a perfect match for David Greig’s rose-tinted rom-com set on a midsummer night in Edinburgh, when two apparently ill-matched thirty-somethings – a high-powered, hard-­drinking lawyer called Helena, and a drifter called Bob who earns a living of sorts on the fringes of Edinburgh’s underworld – collide with one another for one short night, but somehow end up contemplating the possibility of a future together.

What’s striking about this vastly scaled-up Edinburgh International Festival revival, therefore, is not that this co-production between EIF and the National Theatre of Scotland seems a shade overblown and unnecessary, but how well, in Katie Hewitt’s production, some aspects of the show survive the transition. The main casualty is perhaps Gordon Mcintyre’s delicate song-cycle, which often sounds noisy and tuneless when belted out by an overloud three-piece band.

Yet in a Hub main hall swathed in tiers of green astroturf seating, and decked out like a wedding marquee complete with long bridal table, David Greig’s precise, witty, slightly surreal and intensely romantic script continues to work its magic with surprising power.

Sarah Higgins and Henry Pettigrew are by turns wild, touching and poignant as Helena and Bob, Eileen Nicholas and Benny Young magnificent as the reflective older version of the couple who now join the cast; and Midsummer emerges as a passionate love-song to Edinburgh – and to love itself – that remains very much of its time and place, but immensely enjoyable and life-affirming, nonetheless.

• Until 26 August, 8pm