Review: A smoldering ‘Midsummer’ love

 Charlie DelMarcelle and Liz Filios in Inis Nua Theatre Company's production of 'Midsummer [a play with songs]' (Photo courtesy of Katie Reing)

Charlie DelMarcelle and Liz Filios in Inis Nua Theatre Company's production of 'Midsummer [a play with songs]' (Photo courtesy of Katie Reing)

The endearing little show called “Midsummer,” in a smartly done production by Inis Nua Theatre Company, is told much like a short story might read, and it grew and grew on me as its 90 minutes went by.

I’m not certain I would have followed through with it if I were reading it as a story – it begins in a bar and quickly leads into an extended sex scene in which its two characters are explaining their mindsets and also trying a little too hard, much like the play at that point.

But it quickly becomes clear that “Midsummer,” underneath its theatrical slickness, has a real heart that beats ever more insistently. It’s the story of a young man who’s a loser but doesn’t want to be, and a young woman who feels as if she’s losing whatever she has.

They meet at a bar in Edinburgh, where they seem full of the angst and brooding that frequently defines modern British Isles plays – indeed, David Greig’s script and Gordon McIntyre’s songs often show us first what’s inside the characters’ heads before we hear what they actually say.

The full name of the show is “Midsummer [a play with songs],” the sort of title that’s become code for a play with songs that have little or nothing to do with the plot. Happily, this is not the case here; a song about hangovers does, in fact, come during morning-after hangovers, and songs about the emotional spaces between would-be lovers more or less fit the context. “Midsummer,” though, succeeds not on its songs or even its script, but on a feeling it emits and then magnifies – it’s a show about not being sure that someone else could be The One because you’re not really sure about yourself.

Kate Galvin does a fine job of making “Midsummer” frantic when its characters are in binds or on an adventure they share together, then bringing down the beat for introspection, all quite naturally. The show’s two performers, Liz Filios and Charlie DelMarcelle, give “Midsummer” a reason to work — they make their characters organic in roles that are not drawn to be especially realistic, and they’re charming at the same time that they’re believable.

In the moments when music abruptly enters the show, Filios plays several instruments, all of them very well, and DelMarcelle plays guitar. They sing easily together and with each interaction, their chemistry becomes more potent. They’re accompanied by piano and percussion – and pianist/music arranger Jamison Foreman, who watches the proceedings and reacts to them throughout, becomes an important unofficial third character in the show.

“Midsummer [a play with songs],” produced by Inis Nua Theatre Company, runs through April 27 at the Off-Broad Street Theatre, on Sansom Street near 17th Street. 215-454-9776 or inisnuatheatre.org.

 

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