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Criterion Theatre review: Midsummer

Midsummer, Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry, July 2-9.

By Barbara Goulden

What can I say about The Criterion's latest play - a musical made for two, would you believe?

Well, it was written by singer-songwriter Gordon McIntyre along with David Greig. Which means many of those explanatory self-introspection moments are sung, rather than spoken. Or delivered in such an off-hand way that the dialogue makes you laugh out loud, and very occasionally come close to tears. But mostly laugh your socks off.

I always think plays with only two characters have to be the most challenging for any actor, whether they are amateur or professional. And this is the second time in a matter of weeks that the little theatre on Berkeley Road South has managed to produce a master class in performance.

Of course the company is lucky enough to have built up such a talent pool over the years that newcomers among the audience would be hard put to tell the difference between those who act for a living and the ones here who are usually just taking a week off from their day jobs.

So it is with the excellent Nicol Cortese and Chris Firth who play Helena and Bob, the lawyer and the petty criminal, who play instruments, sing, simulate sex (not all at the same time!) while taking on the roles of other minor characters with the help of little more than a few deceptively simple display boards. This pared down "reverse musical" as co-author David Greig describes it, was seen at the Edinburgh Festival a few years ago but doesn't seem to have been performed all that often since.

Thankfully Criterion director Pete Gillam saw the play's worth and together Nicol and Chris create a pitch perfect, comically choreographed, unforgettable night.

Catch this if you can.


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