Writer: Christopher Reid
Director: Jason Morell
Reviewer: Stephen Bates
As a suited middle-aged businessman walks from his Bloomsbury office, he muses that things are not what they used to be. The boozy lunches of the 80s and 90s are now history and nothing in the streets along which he walks is quite the same. He is heading for his once favourite lunchtime haunt, Massimo’s Italian restaurant in Soho, to meet his old flame from long ago.
Christopher Reid’s verse comedy is gentle and melancholic. Robert Bathurst as the businessman has the tired look of a man that is only just coming to realise that he is past his prime, regretting missed opportunities, but quietly accepting the hand that fate has dealt him. His published book of poems only just achieved sales in three figures and his demeanour suggests that he has also failed at most other things in his life.
When she arrives at Massimo’s, the woman (Rebecca Johnson) is smart and confident, close to arrogant. She is married to a successful novelist. Poetry has been abandoned in favour of prose. Inevitably, the lunch goes badly and the businessman consumes at least one bottle of wine too many, bringing back memories of the good old days. “You are out to lunch at your own lunch” the lady informs him.
The 50-minute play is slight, but Bathurst is a master of light comedy and he carries it with ease. Jason Morell’s production features animated drawings by Charles Peattie, in the form of silhouettes projected onto a back screen and these add a surreal feel which complements the verse. The play is small, but perfectly formed.
Runs until 27 August 2018 | Image: Karla Gowlett