Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: (Montreal) Midsummer

Promo video

Songs in the key of Squee
Is it a musical? An Opera? A play with songs? Does it matter?
by Nanette Soucy

Théâtre la Licorne’s intimacy suggests Saturday night drinks with your old friends Helena & Bob as they tell you the story of how they met, in their grubby apartment after a few glasses of wine. Inevitably, at these things, someone always whips out a guitar, and everybody sings along.

Obviously heavily influenced by the multi-disciplinary Edinburgh-borne Fringe movement, playwright and composer David Greig and Gordon McIntyre’s hilarious,  urban, old-enough-to-know-better mid-30’s crisis story, Midsummer, is translated by Olivier Choinière to a familiar exactness that nestles characters Helena & Bob so perfectly in Montreal’s own Fringe neighborhood that it seems as though they were born there.

Grieg and McIntyre’s casual and consciously ironic style defy genre. Is it a musical? An Opera? A play with songs? Does it matter? Unlike musicals and operas, Midsummer’s 9 songs do not propel the action or necessarily express otherwise inexpressible emotions, rather, they function more like a road trip montage in a movie, showing us in slow motion the evolution of those elusive instant attractions, by simply letting actors Isabelle Blais and Pierre-Luc Brillant’s on-stage chemistry shine.

Where la Manufacture’s production succeeds above all, is in accessibility. The story is just raunchy enough for a promising date, and sweet enough for Grandma and Grandpa to enjoy blushing through the kinky parts. On a cold latewinter night on the Plateau, it’s hard not to be instantly smitten with a little rom-com cabaret act with songs in the key of squee about a rainy midsummer evening in Edinburgh and a pair of attractive and star-crossed 30-somethings on a bender with a wad of cash and the implication of happily ever after.

Midsummer continues at La Licorne to April 13 and will be presented with English subtitles March 23 and 30, and April 6 and 13

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