‘Midsummer’ romance

 

(left to right) Patrick Mulvey and Chaon Cross in Greenhouse Theater Center and Proxy Theatre production of Midsummer, a pay with songs. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
(left to right) Patrick Mulvey and Chaon Cross in Greenhouse Theater Center and Proxy Theatre production of Midsummer, a pay with songs. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

3.5 Stars

Helena (Chaon Cross), an attorney, and Bob (Parick Mulvey), a petty thief, are not exactly a perfect match but they find themselves thrown together out of desperation and convenience.

When confronted with an opportunity to have an exhilarating once-in-a-lifetime night of excess and revelry, they both decide to take a chance. It  ultimately leads to a deeper attraction and unforgettable “Midsummer” romance.

Billed as “A Play With Songs” and produced by Proxy Theatre with the Greenhouse Theater Center, the unusual construction of this romantic dramedy has the two actors playing multiple roles.

They do so while periodically performing musical numbers (with guitar, ukulele, and piano) whilst alternately narrating the story-line in third person between spats of dialogue and soliloquy.

So, it’s a bit like an audio book being acted out with musical interludes. Oh! And they do it in a Scottish accent.

While it looks a lot like improv it is actually very well written and carefully crafted by Davis Grieg (playwright) and Gordo McIntyre (music).

Director Randy White deftly guides the emotional highs and lows as well as the movement and energy of the frantic, ninety-minute performance that left Cross, Mulvey and their audience breathless.

The set-design by Mark Smith with lighting by Brandon Wardell enhances the sense of place as the action moves inside and outside while evoking something of the Edinburgh location and adding to the sense of adventure.

McIntyre’s score is comprised of simple, mostly three chord, folk-pop melodies that are charming and technically achievable for any rudimentary guitar, uke, or piano player, cleverly putting this within reach of many performers.

Cross is arguably one of the most popular and talented actors in the city today. I personally have less experience with Mulvey but suffice it to say they were better matched than the play suggests.

I liked this a lot, partially because the production is a bit offbeat and unusual. Also, it is something of a master class for other actors to witness as these two demonstrate multiple characters, nuanced emotions, and a huge arc of comedy and drama – – plus songs.

Oh! And did I mention the Scottish accent? And they do it well!

DETAILS: “Midsummer” is presented by Proxy Theatre at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago through Oct. 6, 2019. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. For tickets and information call (773) 404-7336 or visit Greenhouse Theater.

Reno Lovison

(Ed note: Lovison is a video producer and sometime guitarist and folk singer.)

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

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