Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: SUMMER SOLSTICE, Union Theatre

Review: SUMMER SOLSTICE, Union Theatre

An unsatisfying and shallow search for the meaning of love

Review: SUMMER SOLSTICE, Union Theatre

What is love? Is it even real? Is it made of cheese? Or is it merely a triviality; a figment of our imagination?

It's a question that has plagued philosophers and poets for as long as humans have existed. Unfortunately, we are no closer to finding any meaningful answers to these questions in Mel Masry's shallow and unsatisfying play.

Masry asks this question over and over again in Summer Solstice, a play that features Theo (Masry) and Alba (Anya Fedorova), who meet and fall in love in an Italian restaurant in the year 2000. However, they are both already in other relationships. They swear to meet once a year on the same day in summer. The story is narrated by waiter Leon (Tim Dankert), who has his own aspirations of becoming a writer.

The production never delves any deeper than surface-level. There's virtually no substance to either of the characters and their backstories are treated as superficially as everything else.

Theo's wife is an alcoholic and they have to spend a fortune on rehab, which hinders his desire to become a rockstar. Meanwhile Alba, an aspiring lawyer, is in a loveless relationship with an already established lawyer. For each year that we witness their relationship (and there are two decades worth of meetings), they give a brief update, and that's that. No reflection on what their lives are like. Nothing on the meaning of love, or on the difficulties of attachment.

The plot never goes into depth. They're in love with each other, not with their spouses, but the plot has decided from the get-go that there's no way out. The only real reflections on love come from the waiter, who comments on their relationship after each 'year', and they are as cheesy and clichéd as they come - such as the simile that love is like a wave, or that when one partner is upset, the other must carry them.

The dialogue is often comedic when it doesn't mean to be. The jokes, unfortunately, are not: there's an overlong and deeply unfunny gag about the bread being three years old. Theo frequently criticises the waiter for the shoddy food they're getting, but he just comes off as unpleasant and the waiter as incompetent.

The acting is equally unbalanced. Masry's voice is surprisingly quiet to the extent that he's sometimes overpowered by Aidan Butler's sound design, quite a contrast to Dankert's loud and booming voice. Fedorova's volume is just about right, though she tends to murmur slightly, making her no easier to listen to.

These issues are clearly due to a lack of directing but are often so basic that they could (and should) be addressed quickly. This also includes individual plot points. At one point, waiter Leon is fired from his job, but he doesn't seem all that fazed despite mentioning not being able to pay the rent and - gasp - witness the future of the couple's relationship.

So does the question about the nature of love ever get answered? Not really. When there's nothing to explore, the issues always remain on the surface and the characters don't seem to care. The dialogue is wobbly, even if the space at the Union Theatre is pleasant, intimate, and does provide good vibes. Perhaps better to give this one a miss.

Summer Solstice is at the Union Theatre until 25th June.

Photo Credit: Union Theatre


Further Casting Confirmed for Noël Cowards THE VORTEX at Chichester Festival Theatre Photo
Further casting has been confirmed for Noël Coward’s The Vortex, the opening production of Festival 2023 at Chichester Festival Theatre, playing from 28 April – 20 May.

Myra Dubois Will Embark On National Tour and Edinburgh Fringe Run in 2023 Photo
Following a national tour of Australia, British comedy sensation Myra DuBois will be bringing her new show 'Be Well' to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe before embarking on a UK tour for 2023.

Now Onsale: THE WIZARD OF OZ at the London Palladium Photo
Now onsale: The Wizard Of Oz at the London Palladium-A sensational cast joins Dorothy and Toto this Summer at The London Palladium for an unforgettable adventure down the yellow brick road!

Further Details Set For the Next Season of the Takeover at the Kings Head Theatre Photo
The King's Head Theatre has announced further details of A QUEER INTERROGATION, the second season of the Takeover, curated by Guest Artistic Director Tom Ratcliffe, playing at the iconic Islington pub theatre 19 April – 14 May.

From This Author - Michael Higgs

Michael is a London-based publishing editor born with a passion for literature, theatre, music and the arts. When he isn't busy publishing new academic papers or writing reviews for Broadway Wo... (read more about this author)

Review: LA BOHÈME, Royal Opera HouseReview: LA BOHÈME, Royal Opera House
October 15, 2022

Focusing on uncontroversial flamboyance, Richard Jones’s revival of his 2017 production of La bohème is a visual spectacle with plenty to please the eye.

Review: PATIENCE, Wilton's Music HallReview: PATIENCE, Wilton's Music Hall
August 25, 2022

Ever since its first production in 1881, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience has brought its audiences to tears of laughter, and this production by Charles Court Opera is no exception.

Review: SERSE, Opera Holland ParkReview: SERSE, Opera Holland Park
July 1, 2022

This historical revival of Handel’s Serse particularly emphasises the humorous aspects of the opera, thereby creating a wonderfully entertaining spectacle from start to finish.

Review: SUMMER SOLSTICE, Union TheatreReview: SUMMER SOLSTICE, Union Theatre
June 21, 2022

What is love? It's a question that has plagued philosophers and poets for as long as humans have existed. Unfortunately, we are no closer to finding any meaningful answers to this question in Mel Masry's shallow and unsatisfying play.

BWW Review: TRISTAN AND ISOLDE at the Coronet TheatreBWW Review: TRISTAN AND ISOLDE at the Coronet Theatre
June 6, 2022

Richard Wagner had many strong ideas when it came to music, especially his operas. Reducing the runtime to a mere 60 minutes and concentrating on excerpts that focus on the love story between the titular characters, is Japanese choreographer and dancer Saburo Teshigawara’s adaptation a success?