The Song of Lunch (rating 5/5)
Robert Bathurst was a barely known performer until landing the career-changing part of management consultant David Marsden in Mike Bullen’s ITV series Cold Feet.
Here he plays a similar role, as a rejected and shambolic former husband anticipating and experiencing a reunion lunch with his ex-wife at a favourite old haunt, a restaurant in Soho which has undergone changes he regrets, to full comedic effect.
It is not so much a play as an enactment of a poetic monologue in which the main character speaks for almost the entire 50 minute performance. It is a Herculean effort.
Bathurst takes the role played during National Poetry Month by the late Alan Rickman in the 2010 television adaptation of Christopher Reid’s comedy, with Rebecca Johnson assuming Emma Thompson’s part as the departed wife.
Neither has a named character, merely referenced as ‘he’ and ‘she’, with Bathurst’s narrative referring to himself mainly in the third person.
The writing is beautifully observational, down to its description of tasks and objects – “he draws a breadstick and beheads it with one bite”, and the disdainful “laminated menus like a riot policeman’s shield”.
Props amount to two chairs, with only a simple animated backcloth providing the setting for what is an account of lost love, of personal failure, but also of manners and good taste, some of it also lost.
Bathurst’s pained expressions and ever-present demeanour of misplaced hope over expectation was evident in his Cold Feet character and are perfect for this role.
The show played to a full house and can expect a few more. Highly recommended.
The Song of Lunch is at the Pleasance Courtyard (Forth), various dates until 27 August