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BWW Review: LOVE, LOSS & CHIANTI, Riverside Studios

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BWW Review: LOVE, LOSS & CHIANTI, Riverside Studios

BWW Review: LOVE, LOSS & CHIANTI, Riverside Studios
The second production at the recently reopened Riverside Studios in Hammersmith marks Robert Bathurst's highly anticipated return to the stage. Joined by Rebecca Johnson, Love, Loss & Chianti is a double bill of poet Christopher Reid's A Scattering and The Song of Lunch.

A Scattering was completed during the three years that followed the death of Reid's wife. Recounting her final days in a hospice, we are initially provided with Lucinda's perspective before the attention is turned to Bathurst as he navigates his way through grief. The lyrical writing prevents such weighty subject matter from ever growing turgid and there's a surprising amount of humour, which is expertly timed and delivered. It's heartfelt and heartbreaking but under Jason Morell's sensitive and understated direction, A Scattering is an ultimately uplifting celebration of life and love.

The pace picks up with The Song of Lunch, which due to its farcical nature allows for many laugh out loud and often cringe worthy moments. Set in a Soho restaurant, the play sees a couple reunite after a lengthy hiatus. As more and more Chianti is consumed, Bathurst's hopes of rekindling their romance are gradually and hilariously extinguished. The two again offer emotionally charged performances and are utterly convincing as the former lovers who know one another so intimately yet have grown into strangers leading very different lives. Themes from A Scattering seep in and resonate, affording the evening a lucid coherence.

The minimal set boasts just two chairs with an ever-changing and gorgeously vivid video animation design by Charles Peattie. The vast majority of our focus is quite rightly on the language. Bathurst has a great deal of dialogue but rises to the challenge to bring it beautifully to life. Knowing exactly which words to emphasise and when to let them linger, it's a delicately nuanced performance that lures us into his characters turbulent world. Johnson bounces off Bathurst exceedingly well and injects a radiant warmth and naturalness into her characters. Both are quite simply a joy to watch.

Highly entertaining and thought provoking, Love, Loss & Chianti is exceptionally written and perfectly cast. This is a refreshingly cathartic and life affirming theatrical experience quite unlike anything else.

Love, Loss & Chianti at Riverside Studios until 17 May

Photo Credit: Alex Harvey - Brown

You can read our Theatre Spotlight on Riverside Studios here.

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From This Author Jonathan Marshall