Bissett and Pidgeon reunite for Midsummer in January

Dec 21 2011 | By More

One-off performances of Traverse smash hit prior to Oz tour

Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon in Midsummer publicity shot

By Thom Dibdin

Midsummer (a play with songs), the 2008 smash hit by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre for the Traverse, is to get a one-off staging in January, ahead of a tour to Australia.

The play is to get two special performances in Traverse One, on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 January. The performances see original performers Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon reunited. Admission is by donation, suggested minimum £6, which will go towards funding the antipodean tour.

According to The Traverse: “Midsummer began life as the pilot project of the Traverse Theatre’s experimental strand of work, Traverse Too. David Greig and Gordon McIntyre were asked to create a piece of work using a small budget and very short rehearsal time, which allowed them to take greater risks. The resulting play has toured the UK, and to Ireland, Canada and Washington.”

The play has won many accolades, including nominations for best actress, best new play, best use of music and sound, and best production, in the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland, 2008/9. Although it was pipped at the post in a strong year, Cora Bissett won best actress in the Stage Awards for Acting Excellence at the fringe in 2009.

Here’s my review of the revival in the Autumn of 2009, written for The Stage

Midsummer [A Play with Songs]
Writers: David Greig, Gordon McIntyre
Director: David Greig
Producer: Traverse Theatre Company
Songwriter: Gordon McIntyre
Cast: Cora Bissett, Matthew Pidgeon
Running Time: 1 hrs 40 mins

Funny and touching, David Greig’s Edinburgh-set two-hander, which has been revived for the Traverse theatre’s main stage and an international tour, is as thoroughly entertaining as it ever was. Indeed, with extra space to breath, Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon have found even greater depths of poignancy and humour, largely because they have kept the crisp discipline to their storytelling which helped make the original production such a hit.

Reprising the roles they helped create, Bissett plays stood-up divorce lawyer Helen and Pidgeon is petty-criminal “medium” Bob, who Helen picks up on a wet Midsummer weekend while he is waiting for a contact in a wine-bar. Breaking out from the angular frame of the double bed which sits centre stage, they deconstruct and reconstruct that weekend, taking on the roles of the various side-characters and picking up guitars to drop easily into Gordon McIntyre’s wistful songs, which comment on and add emotional depth to the characters.

This is easy and captivating theatre, which speaks of lost youth and remembering not to regret things done, only those things not done. As the angst-ridden non-couple, just reaching 35 and denying their mid-life crisis, Bissett and Pidgeon stride through it all. Working out from Georgia McGuinness’ tight geometric set that surrounds the central bed, they create the Edinburgh backdrop so vividly that there is no need to know the city’s named nooks and crannies to get their resonances.

The occasional flaws to the plotting and geography which muddied the clarity of previous productions have been ironed out while the cultural references remain universal. With Bissett and Pidgeon giving a real spontaneity to their performances, this is a bright, imaginative and fresh piece of theatre.

The new production is embarking on a three-month showcase tour of Australia, where it will visit Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong and Brisbane.

The performance on Thursday 19 January is for Traverse Theatre Club members – booking can be made through the box office on 0131 228 1404, or in person.

Tickets for the Friday 20 January performance are on general sale. Booking can be made online, over the phone or in person.

Full details on the Traverse website

Tickets available here


EDIT 22/XII/11: Replaced synopsis with review.

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