The Song of Lunch (4 stars)

The Song of Lunch

credit: Alex Brenner

A miniature portrait of male failure

Driven by Robert Bathurst's flowing, commanding performance and Christopher Reid's elegiac poetry, The Song of Lunch celebrates and commiserates with the crisis of a man as he hopes to rekindle a lost passion. Through telling descriptive detail and melodramatic bursts of romanticism, Bathurst unveils the interior despair of a man lost in his disappointed hopes for love and meaning.

Set in a Soho Italian restaurant, The Song of Lunch is a litany of frustrated sophistication, depicting Bathurst's unnamed hero imagining that a lunch with his former lover – played with stoic aplomb by Rebecca Johnson – might redeem his increasingly desiccated soul. Confronted by her for his collection of poems describing their relationship in epic terms, he gradually unwinds, with alcohol dealing the decisive blow.

Charles Peattie's animations provide a shifting, and sometimes suggestive backdrop, and Reid's language is a precise analysis of both a London that is disappearing and a man's mind as it succumbs to failure.

Bathurst is charismatic and captures his protagonist's unease, and his lack of self-awareness. Confident rather than ambitious, the production frames the poetry comfortably: the animations are often timid illustrations rather than expanding the story, and the subtle play of hope and misery remains a quiet rather than overpowering tragedy.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug (not 13), 2.20pm, £11–£14.50 (£10–£13.50).

The Song of Lunch

  • 4 stars

Thirty/20 Theatre and Something for the Weekend Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet, Downton Abbey, Toast of London) and Rebecca Johnson (The Trip, The Flood) star in this hilarious and poignant drama of a disastrous attempt to rekindle lost love. Set in a Soho Italian restaurant, Costa Award winner Christopher Reid's verse…

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