The Song of Lunch
The Pleasance Courtyard
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
The Forth venue at Pleasance Courtyard is a wonderful space and was filled to capacity in anticipation of this 50 minute show. The words “The Song of Lunch” were projected onto the back wall, looking like the sign of a café. The action begins with Robert Bathurst’s silhouette on the screen as he launches into dialogue with the audience that was somehow calm but manic at the same time. With his “…imagination peeled…” he refers to TS Elliot and describes with gusto his taste for the written word.
His lunch date, with an old flame, came in the shape of Rebecca Johnson who looked fabulous, an observation he shared with the audience as he thought out loud poetically and ravenously. He set a high bar of comedy “…under new mismanagement…” and had us agreeing to it with laughter. Yet he wonders if his pursuit is in vain, “…was the shadow world to welcome him”? He danced lightly around while pouring the dialogue from his mouth in torrents and swash-buckling precision. They meet for lunch.
The silhouette mocked him laughingly as he sang an interlude melody. We watch as he compares his memories of her with the current reality and finds his heart gladdened and his sensibilities heightened. Drinking more wine than her in his nervousness, his head tells him that he has a speech to deliver now that he is in her company. At the same time, he finds he wants to amuse her too, so he tries both.
They physically circle each other, in a birdlike dance, winding up by standing side by side in an easy movement, slipping back into conversation. The physical interplay has them at one moment close to caressing and the next moving a great distance apart, all the while with him lyrically describing to us everything that was happening. The silhouette scoured the room and showed us a shadow dance on the screen. He tells us that this gives him an almost youthful delight.
Rebecca stands in front of him and they move the two chairs to sit down for lunch. We see everything in great detail, mirroring his heightened feelings. His nerves are pushed to the point of destruction as he excitedly drains the bottle of wine while she is still on her first glass. “Could this all go horribly wrong?” he asks himself. There’s a change in the dynamic as the chairs are moved and he takes her hand in an intimate way and sensually describes it. We watch with rapt attention as the action builds to a crescendo. It’s all done very lightly with clean, tight direction and simple tricks like Robert laying himself on her lap, showing the depth of his feelings.
Robert strides up into the audience, moving from one side of the stage to the other and taking centre stage by lying on the floor as an antidote for all of life’s ills. We laugh as he hilariously takes a trip to the loo to take a pee – was it “…will power or wine…?” As the silhouette spans the screen he doesn’t know whether to weep or sleep – nudge him, he says, and he’ll crumble. He expresses the underlying joy he feels at this reunion in an adorable deprecating manner, funny and touching. This is a thoroughly delightful 50 minutes of entertainment – it would be great to see these characters in further dramas.