Love, Loss & Chianti – two plays by Christopher Reid. Riverside Studios, Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London W8 to 17 May 2020. 4****. William Russell.

Love, Loss & Chianti
By Christopher Reid.
The Riverside Studios, Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London W6 8BN to 17 May 2022.
Tues – Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8237 1010
Review: William Russell 28 February.
Robert Bathurst and Rebecca Johnson give pitch perfect performances in this revival of poet Christopher Reid’s two verse plays. The first, A Scattering, which won the Costa Book Award in 2009, is about the death of his wife, the actress Lucinda Gane – she had cancer and the play deals with her illness and his grief and is a powerful and moving piece of theatre. It covers the last six months of their life together starting with a final holiday in Crete and then her time in a hospice. It started as a book and then made the journey to the stage. The second play The Song of Lunch was written two years later and was seen on television with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman as the one time lovers meeting after ten or twelve years for lunch in a restaurant they used to know well. It lifts the mood, although it really is proof that sometimes the past can be a country best left un-revisited as the man, a rather louche editor in a publishing company, gets ever more drunk on Chianti – it is one of those once upon a time Chianti in a bottle with a wicker basket restaurants – and she realises that it was all a big mistake. He imagines himself as an Orpheus seeking his Eurydice, which was just one of his delusions – that coupled with a longing for past glories which weren’t all that glorious then. She has suggested the meeting, possibly out of boredom as she is married with children and living with a successful writer husband – the man who took her from the Bathurst character, in Paris. Bitter sweet, spell-binding stuff. Bathurst and Johnson hold the stage perfectly and you can hear every word which matters here. The theatre, basically a box with seats, is a pretty Spartan pace for performances and one which add enormously to the delights and stimulations on offer – because it is an effect to make you look back at the past and ponder.

Robert Bathurst
Rebecca Johnson
Director: Jason Morell.
Animation Designs & Drawing: Charles Peattie.
Scenic Concept: Timothy Bird.
Lighting Design: Colin Grenfell.
Sound Design: Gregory Clarke.
Video Facilitation: Matthew Brown.
Animation – A Scattering: Emma Burch & Tom Baker.
Production Photography: Alex Harvey-Brown.

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