Ipswich is served by some great theatres and none more so than the New Wolsey which is renowned for some great productions. But every so often something comes along that is exceptional and this is the case with Peter Rowe and Ben Goddard’s Midsummer Songs.
The production is the first of the new season at the theatre, and what a start. Fresh out of uni a group of friends spend a weekend together in Wales. During that weekend they party lots, they also all have a love of music and just for fun they jam and write a selection of songs which they record onto one side of a C90 cassette (remember cassettes?). The tape is then put in a biscuit tin to be buried on the Welsh hillside. The friends all vow to return, dig it up and play it again in 25 years time.
Fast forward time 25 years and spurred on by Stuart five of the original six return to Wales. Nostalgia reigns and there’s talk of times gone by, singing of those songs that they originally sang and catching up on what has happened in the intervening years. There’s success and failure, happiness and regret and lots of “what-ifs”.
There are some amazing characters in Midsummer Songs, some plain nice, some with hidden agendas but it’s a story of old friends, talking over old times. It’s midsummer and it’s not just mercury that is rising as slowly tempers and feelings heat up too.
Midsummer Songs contains some great original music which weave their way thru the story. So good were these songs that the audience were lining up afterwards to add their names to a list requesting a soundtrack is produced, it’s a pity that the producers didn’t know how popular the music would be from the start as if last night was anything to go by they’d have sold out there and then. (New Wolsey, you missed a trick there!)
If you only go and see one play this season make it this one.
Midsummer Songs is at the New Wolsey until Saturday 27th September. Box Office 01473 295900. www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
Mark Keable – Ipswich24 Magazine
Pictures by Mike Kwasniak