Riverside Studios, London – until 17 May 2020
Guest reviewer: Heather Chalkley
Award-winning poet Christopher Reid wrote two exceptional pieces of work in 2009: A Scattering and The Song of Lunch. Although written and often performed separately, they naturally came together in this piece. When writing them, Reid never imagined they would come to the stage to be performed. However, it seems a fitting tribute to the catalyst of the piece, his late wife and actress, Lucinda Gane.
In the first half Robert Bathurst delivers an elegant and intense performance, bringing to life the rhythm of The Scattering, with the tilt and flow of each part. The emotional intelligence and honesty springs off the page on to the stage. Rebecca Johnson as Lucinda, creates atmosphere, infusing a strong femininity that complements Bathurst.
The Song of Lunch is a great contrast. Bathurst weaves together the dark humour of unrealistic and boyish romantic hopes into an alcohol induced torpor. No mean feat and brilliantly done. Johnson brings strength, poise, anger and indignation, wrapped up in a woman of substance that had a bone to pick. The book of poems he had written based on their relationship is a one-sided fabrication and he needs to know that! Johnson has an emotional effervescence that needs little dialogue.
The use of animation is inspired. Firstly, it reflects the literary origins of the piece. Then, it acts as a silent narrator. This relieves some of the burden of narration from Bathurst and entwines beautifully with the poetry. Director Jason Morell brings distinctly different performance elements together, to create the perfect homage to Reid’s art.