A publisher leaves a Post-It note on his computer screen bearing the words “Gone to lunch” before heading off to meet an old flame at what was once their favourite London restaurant. But it becomes painfully clear to the publisher (Alan Rickman) that everything has changed. The restaurant isn’t the casual, noisy Italian with Chianti in raffia bottles it once was, and his old flame (Emma Thompson) isn’t the girl he once knew. Both restaurant and ex-lover are sleeker, more sophisticated and emotionally at a remove.
The Song of Lunch is a prose poem by award-winning writer Christopher Reid. It’s an unusual structure for a drama (the poem is Rickman’s interior monologue, though both characters chip in with dialogue), but it works fluidly and beautifully. Reid’s writing is gorgeous, and funny whether he’s articulating the courtesies of a restaurant visit (he describes catching the waiter’s attention as “the demure flutter of restaurant semaphore”) or matters of the heart. Throughout The Song of Lunch wears its cleverness lightly, and Reid’s use of language is a joy.