3 out of 4 stars
A rowdier, Scottish-ier version of Once, MIDSUMMER (A Play with Songs) is a wickedly funny retelling of one seemingly mismatched couple’s lost weekend of wine, song, shagging, and outrageous parking fees. Accompanying themselves on a range of instruments, Mulvey and Cross belt out the joyous folk-pop score in this one-of–a-kind production that is a genuine love letter to the great city of Edinburgh–and the un-Hollywood endings you just might find there!
This Midwest premiere is playing at Greenhouse Theater Center with Proxy Theatre and features celebrated Chicago actors Chaon Cross as Helena and Patrick Mulvey as Bob. Cross and Mulvey together complement each other wonderfully within this production. The explanative broken fourth wall production is quirky with its rom-com troupes and unconventional hilarity. Greig’s writing sparks classic troupes that get turned on their head and flipped inside out while being fueled by Gordon McIntyre’s indie soundtrack.
Together, Mulvey and Cross challenge the space through Dan Plehal’s movement design. They tap into their playground and take the small intimate theater and uses it to their fullest capability. Up, down, across, behind – they travel across the city of Edinburgh and all across the theater. The essence of the city is told through these two people being shoved together by serendipity. The actors wonderfully incorporate the vignette melodies and well executed accents. I think it’s a perfect balance between dialogue and musical moments to close out scenes and push the narrative forward. A production that non-musical folks can definitely get behind. The structure of the work definitely focuses on humorous duet acting that requires a multitude of secondary characters that evolve and bulk up the main threaded plot. Ellen MacKay’s costume design does a good job at simplifying the main character’s story arcs while implementing effectively additional accessories to differentiate.
I will say the distraction of All Quiet on the Western Front’s gunfire and stomping upstairs pulled away early on in Midsummer’s opening sequence. This production is Greenhouse Theater’s first toe dip into a musical production. This unconventional romantic comedy is self-aware with mirroring scenes that highlight a desperation and yearning for abandoning a negative breathless midlife crisis.
MIDSUMMER will play through October 6, 2019 in The Greenhouse Theater Center’s Downstairs Main Stage, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at greenhousetheater.org, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336.
Mary Crylen is a photographer and writer based in Chicago. She is an alum of Southern Illinois University of Carbondale with dual degrees in English and Photography. She possesses a sincere passion for the arts and believes zeal shows through work. Follow her on Twitter!