Love, Loss and Chianti stages two of Christopher Reid’s poetic works A Scattering and The Song of Lunch, both, as the title suggests, explore the liminal space where love and loss collide.
Grief is arguably one of the most human of emotions, something we can, or one day will experience and connect with
The first half of the performance, A Scattering, explores a husband who has lost his wife to a brain tumour, lends itself well to theatrical interpretation. The exquisite intricacies of Reid’s language shines through, a truly beautiful piece of writing infused with complex metaphors and deep-rooted pain. It is paired well with the illustrative projections by Charles Peatie, which are simply stunning. Visually, everything about A Scattering was elegant and well-constructed, from the truly magnificent lighting design to the graceful choreography. However, for me, audibly this section didn’t quite hit the mark. Compared to the expertly crafted visual elements, the sound design felt almost clumsy and rushed, and similarly the vocal elements of performance seemed to oppose the delicacy of Reid’s text.
Though Robert Bathurst and Rebecca Johnson’s performances showcased their incredible acting abilities, it felt, for this first part, that the acting style didn’t quite match the other elements of the production, or, (which in my opinion is a far mor significant shortcoming), the emotional complexity of the text that was being spoken. To me, the style of performance here felt more suited to the world of the RSC or the Globe, far too overtly theatrical to spark a connection with the audience on an emotional level. After all, grief is arguably one of the most human of emotions, something we can, or one day will experience and connect with. Unfortunately, as impressive as Johnson and Brathurst’s performances were, there just wasn’t a convincing enough sense of honesty to encapsulate these emotions.
When we got to the second half though, there was a complete shift in performance style as we entered the more comical sphere of The Song Of Lunch, where we see the rocky reunion of two former lovers over lunch. This section of the performance was considerably more successful. Both Bathurst and Johnson gave knock-out performances and there was much more fluidity and intricacy. Bathurst truly took us on this journey with him and it was a delight to watch, and a great contrast to the first half. Both physical and vocal elements of performance worked in harmony and the on-stage chemistry between the two actors was engaging and exciting to witness. This half was by far the most cohesive.
Overall, I think the work done to bring Reid’s poetry to the stage has certainly paid off. Such beautiful writing is so well suited to live performance and some of the stage pictures director Jason Morrell has created, are simply breathtaking. If you focus on the successes of the second half, then this is truly a work to be celebrated. I truly feel the work being done here is exciting, and I hope that with a little more work on the first half, this performance will go far, and Reid’s writing will continue to live on, on stage.