Tag Archives: Christopher Reid

Love Loss and Chianti

Love, Loss & Chianti


Riverside Studios

Love Loss & Chianti

Love, Loss & Chianti

Riverside Studios

Reviewed – 28th February 2020



“Director Jason Morell gives the staging a rhythmic, choreographed feel”


The poet, Christopher Reid, has always been surprised at his own success. To top that, he has even said that his Costa Book of the Year Award for “A Scattering” came with ‘an element of almost grief. Of ruefulness that winning was borne of what was the worst tragedy in my life’. This poem, succeeded by “The Song of Lunch” comprise the two acts of “Love, Loss & Chianti” which bring them both to heart-breaking and heart-warming life in two magnificent performances from Robert Bathurst and Rebecca Johnson. Both poems are quite different in style but they both share the same theatricality that makes the journey from page to stage inevitable.

“A Scattering” is Reid’s elegiac poem written for his wife, the actress Lucinda Gane, who died of cancer. It sounds morbid, but it is beautifully expressed. The opening lines an evocative description of a deathbed vigil; uncomfortable and brutally honest. “Sparse breath, then none. And it was done.” Bathurst’s delivery is at once colloquial and emotional; filled with humility but positivity too and, at times, touches of comedy. Starting with their final holiday together in Crete filled with sunshine and the knowledge that this is the last, it journeys through the subsequent death, loss and process of grief. The decision not to present this as a one hander is inspired, and Johnson adds a poignant dimension not just as the late wife but also stealing lines from the poet’s consciousness and claiming them back as her own. The terrible moments of morphine-induced ravings are chilling. Director Jason Morell gives the staging a rhythmic, choreographed feel which has the actors coursing the stage, separating and coming together again like dying swans.

Reid started writing “The Song of Lunch” the morning after “A Scattering” was finished. As an antidote it has the feel of a light farce and although probably equal in length it feels much shorter than the first act. There are moments of pure comedic genius interspersed with sharp observations. Reid is describing an ill-fated reunion with an old flame in a Soho Italian restaurant that fails to live up to the expectations of his wistful yearning for better days. Bathurst is a book editor and failed author while Johnson is his former lover who left him to marry a successful novelist fifteen years before. There is a touch of Jeffrey Bernard in Bathurst’s performance – echoes of his immersive production in the Coach and Horses last year – which highlights the strands of sadness beneath the string of witticisms and wine fuelled slips of the tongue.

Two contrasting pieces, but united with meticulous care by the creators. Charles Peattie’s animated projections tastefully complement the spoken words, paying homage to the silhouette animation of Lotte Reiniger, especially in “The Song of Lunch”. The evening is as far from a poetry recital as is possible. Reid’s poetry is vivid and theatrical, and Bathurst is clearly relishing the role of bringing them to a wider audience. When he first told people he was doing a poetry show, they said “Oh really?”. Being exposed to verse is often an off-putting prospect. Bathurst has turned that on its head and clearly demonstrated that Christopher Reid need not be be surprised at his own success. Judging by the reaction to “Love, Loss & Chianti”, nobody else is. Any reservations are soon dispelled, and you will watch wide-eyed, if not always dry-eyed.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Alex Harvey-Brown


Love, Loss & Chianti

Riverside Studios until 17th May


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Persona | ★★★★ | January 2020


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The Inheritance – 4 Stars


The Inheritance

 Noël Coward Theatre

Reviewed – 13th October 2018


“Seeing a play on the West End that so unashamedly and honestly tackles gay male relationships (sexual and otherwise) feels in itself a remarkable achievement”


Epic in almost every sense of the word, ‘The Inheritance’, now enjoying a West End transfer after a sell-out run at the Young Vic, demands seven inspiring, moving, riveting hours to tell a story about how stories are shaped, and how they in turn shape those who listen to them.

A group of men are trying to tell their life stories but need help. Enter E. M. Forster, whose ‘Howards End’ forms the basis of Matthew Lopez’s ‘The Inheritance’, to help the boys along. Expertly played by Paul Hilton, ‘Morgan’ – with the help of the cast – becomes our narrator, introducing us to Toby Darling (Andrew Burnap) and Eric Glass (Kyle Soller), whose rocky relationship the play centres around. Taking place almost entirely in Manhattan, New York, the couple face eviction, jealousies, successes and failures, all the while embracing and reflecting upon the lives of gay men over the last hundred years with each other and the group of friends that surrounds them.

At its core, Lopez has woven an intoxicating tapestry of a show that demonstrates the problematic importance of legacy and community, especially for gay men today. We hear lots of stories. How these stories come together is the nature of ‘inheritance’. How do we learn how to be gay men? From each other? And what happens when that community of exchange breaks down? Drawing on the emotional devastation of the late-eighties/early-nineties AIDS crisis, Lopez suggests the trauma of one generation should be the next one’s inspiration.

Bob Crowley’s sparse design is gorgeously simple, and along with Stephen Daldry’s astute direction, exposes the theatricality of the endeavour, whilst giving the cast plenty of space to play. The often cumbersome narrative elements to the play are expertly handled by the cast and director, who places his actors almost constantly on stage, listening, commenting and waiting for their turn. The need to flip on a dime from exposition to ‘scene’ is wittily and effectively handled by the cast at large. Burnap is mesmerising in his performance as Toby Darling, larger than life, hilarious, yet always hinting at a dark past, the reveal of which the audience really has a long wait for. Kyle Soller is equally courageous in his performance, able to be sentimental without parody and believably naïve all the way through to the end. Andrew Burnap and Syrus Lowe stand out in a tight, generous and incredible ensemble.

‘The Inheritance’ is essential viewing for everyone. Seeing a play on the West End that so unashamedly and honestly tackles gay male relationships (sexual and otherwise) feels in itself a remarkable achievement. I would argue Lopez could have trimmed down this story by a few hours and we wouldn’t have minded, but this emotionally stirring and inspirational production is well worth getting cramp for.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Production photography by Marc Brenner

Cast image below by Johan Persson

The Inheritance

 Noël Coward Theatre until 19th January


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Quiz | ★★★★ | April 2018
The Lieutenant of Inishmore | ★★★★ | July 2018


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