‘Midsummer – A Play With Songs’ by the Apollinaire Theatre Company

‘Midsummer – A Play With Songs’ –
Written by David Grieg; Songs by Gordon McIntyre; Directed by
Danielle Fauteux Jacques; Set Design by Nathan K. Lee; Music
Direction & Sound Design by David Reiffel.
Presented by the Apollinaire Theatre Company, at
the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea through
January 11


As any unread self-help book sitting in a bookstore bargain bin can tell
you, the power to change the course of our lives change lies within all of us.
Unfortunately, the catalyst to make that change either never comes for most of
us or we just keep missing the signs. But occasionally the cosmic tumblers fall
into place, and that allows a fortunate few to catch a fleeting and honest
glimpse of themselves, and then they’re faced with the decision: Do I change or
just throw in the towel and accept this crappy existence? 

In Apollinaire Theatre Company’s terrific production of
“Midsummer”, the thoughtful romantic comedy by Scottish playwright
David Grieg (with songs by Gordon McIntyre), we meet two people, who, following
a night of mindless drunken sex, each have the same epiphany: My life sucks and
something has got to change. But while those types of revelations generally
involve getting as far away from the person who made you realize how much your
life sucks because being in their company is providing the conclusive evidence
for that conclusion, this one is a springboard to a (hopefully) life-changing
romantic journey.

Like most romantic comedies, the leads are an absolute mismatch, at least
on paper. Bob (
Brooks Reeves) is a lackey for a low level organized crime
figure whose main qualification for the job appears to be his ability to lie
convincingly. Helena (
Courtland Jones) also makes her living
stretching the truth, working as a lawyer while having an unsatisfying affair
with a married man. Bob’s moment of clarity about the sordid condition of his
life comes when he has a hilarious but poignant conversation with an unlikely
source of wisdom – his own penis, which tells him, “Look at yourself Bob.
Look at the way you’ve lived your life, man. You’re doing all these things and
they’re not fulfilling and they’re not worthwhile. You’re an underachiever,

Courtney’s come-to-Jesus moment occurs right after she finishes vomiting on
the steps of the church where her sister is to be married. It is her eighth
time being a bridesmaid and her self-loathing reaches a hilarious crescendo in
an encounter with her precocious nephew Brendan as the wedding begins, sans
Helena. But the wheels of change begin to move slowly and painfully forward for
the pair, and the play takes us on a lost weekend of change.

There are a number of elements that separate “Midsummer” from
standard romantic comedy fare. For one, the play does not follow a linear
narrative, but instead we are treated to a series of observational vignettes,
whether it is one character serving as a narrator for the other’s thought
processes, a game show detailing Bob’s shortcomings or the songs describing the
emotional quandaries that Bob and Helena are finding themselves in. The songs
are especially effective, but this is not a musical, per se. Some are funny,
like “The Hangover Song” which contains the line, “If a hangover
was a feeling it would be last minute defeat. And if my hangover was a girl it
would be you” and some are touching, such as the lovely “There Are
Only Inches Between Us, But There Might As Well Be Trees.” Reeves and
Jones perform the songs on piano and guitar respectively, and both are pleasant
singers and convey the feelings behind the songs superbly.

The performances by both actors are terrific as well, including some
convincing accent work with the sometimes difficult Scottish accent (think
“Trainspotting”). In addition to playing Bob and Helena, the actors
jump into an assortment of characters (credit director
Danielle Fauteux Jacques for making the difficult reality changes
appear seamless) without skipping a beat. Reeves is a scream as nephew Brendan,
and Jones does some amusing turns playing low life thugs bullying the hapless

This was truly one
of the late season delights for me, that rare find of an intelligent romantic
comedy with some profundity – with great songs to boot. Don’t miss it. For
more info go to:


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