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Midsummer Songs

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Peter Rowe and Ben Goddard have concocted a heart-warming theatrical treat about a 25-year university reunion in a cottage in the middle of Wales, featuring some fine songwriting this is a play with music, not a musical.

As might be expected, the baggage is heavy when five middle aged former pals meet back at the place where a quarter of a century earlier they recorded some music and musings on a C90 tape and buried it in a biscuit tin. Grown up life has presented challenges to them all and some are coping rather better than others.

The driving force behind the get-together is the uppity Stuart Adam Keast, but it soon transpires that of the five he has had the most trouble keeping his wit or wits intact. Eventually, everyone accedes to his insistence that they nail the songs they started all those years ago; so starts an emotional conveyor belt of angst, lust, love, regret and apology set to guitar and piano.

The result? Navel-gazing has rarely been this enjoyable. Goddard’s song construction and melodies are impressive, but the soaring harmonies contributed by this cast are a joy.

Alex Bourne as Bob, a man fatigued by marriage, has the most back story to explore; his longing for excitement in the arms of ex-love Maddy Yvette Robinson is played with sensitivity while his scenes with beleaguered wife Heather Jane Milligan, who arrives out of the blue and in a state, have a wince-inducing realism to them.

This is a show that holds up a mirror to forty-somethings and asks them, through words and song, to come to terms with the choices they have made as adults. Rowe and Goddard have made that a deliciously entertaining theme.

  • New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
  • September 4-27
  • Author/director: Peter Rowe
  • Design: Dawn Allsopp set, Nick Richings lighting, Bobby Aitken sound
  • Composer/musical director: Ben Goddard
  • Technical: Debbie O’Brien casting director
  • Cast: Alex Bourne, Glenn Carter, Phylip Harries, Hannah Jarrett-Scott, Adam Keast, Jane Milligan, Peter Peverley, Yvette Robinson
  • Producer: New Wolsey Theatre
  • Running time: 2hrs

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Verdict
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