The Song of Lunch: stilted but serviceable

Christian Butler

Topics Culture

The Song of Lunch is a ‘verse comedy’ adapted from the poem of the same name by Christopher Reid. Reid’s poem has previously been adapted into a TV movie with Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. A play based on it premiered in Chichester three years ago, and now a new production arrives at the Edinburgh Fringe. This one stars Robert Bathurst, of Downton Abbey and Cold Feet fame, playing a writer having lunch with his ex, played by Rebecca Johnson.

The text itself feels detached and indulgent: a poet-protagonist bemoans his midlife in florid verse while his ex speaks in normal sentences and calls out his pretensions. It is unclear how ironic Reid intended this set up to be. The overwrought dialogue also leads to some rather mannered, stilted comedy. But the material is elevated here by some fine performances and Jason Morell’s quirky direction.


Christian Butler is a spiked columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @CPAButler

The Song of Lunch is at the Pleasance Courtyard until 27 August.

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