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Not All Reunions Have To Be Like This

I can understand why my reluctance to press ‘play’ saw A Song of Lunch slip down the list of recordings towards oblivion, where it was keeping company with the graveyard of films I thought I really should watch – the ones the Radio Times has given five star reviews to and those worthy foreign offerings shown at 2.00am. An adaptation of a poem doesn’t sound promising…but Alan Rickman…Emma Thompson? 

We start with Alan Rickman (if he has another name, I can’t remember it). To be more precise, we start inside his head. A man placing a yellow sticker on his dead computer screen, relishing the prospect of escape from office captivity for a few short hours. His purpose: meeting an old flame for lunch (anyone else hear those warning bells?). Picking his way through increasingly claustrophobic London streets to visit a Soho restaurant they used to frequent, expecting to find it unchanged despite fifteen years of absence. Recognising no one. Hating the new plastic menus.

Inside Alan Rickman’s head is where we feel secure. It feels wrong when Emma Thompson breaches the safety barrier with words and, worse still, when the deluge that falls from Alan Rickman’s mouth isn’t as eloquent as the thoughts we know he’s capable of. Even his speaking voice isn’t as rich as the one he uses to think in. I watch as small errors of judgement are made. The order of a second bottle of full-bodied red when Emma Thompson’s menu choice clearly demands a dry white. Her disastrous critique of his poetry that is clearly about the breakup of their relationship – perhaps something she feels she has to acknowledge given that it is in print for the world to read. The grappa that follows when the waiter suggests deserts or coffees. But still I hold tight to a thread of optimism that  there is still time to make things rights. It is not all his fault. There are gaping contradictions in her behaviour: she wants to know all about his life, making him go first, but gives little away (‘good wife and mother’ is not the story of fifteen years); she accuses him of leering at her married wrist, but feels quite entitled to massage his hand. Alan Rickman clearly feels the need to retreat to safety inside his head too, Emma Thompson’s amused ‘Penny?’ turning cold and then positively hostile, until finally, the mental retreat becomes physical as our friend finds an excuse to escape to the peace of the roof. Not surprisingly, when he returns, she is gone. No one has the satisfaction of having the last word, in fact, I struggle to recall what the last word was.

Finally, sight of an old man sipping expresso brings a glimmer of recognition – but this is not nostalgia or hope we witness. The restaurant owner who, still young in the moving pictures inside Alan Rickman’s head, has been reduced by age. Nothing is as it was. This is an experiment that will not be repeated.

I prefer to take my nod from Tom Waits’ Martha when I think of reunions. This, too, is poetry: ‘We we all so young and foolish, now we are mature.’ 

I am looking forward to a repeat reunion with two old friends on Sunday (I use the word ‘old’ affectionately). We have rediscovered each other after twenty-five years of absence. Perhaps fifteen years is a little too soon.

One comment

  1. Wow, that’s a really clever way of tihinkng about it!

    Comment by Delores on May 5, 2011 at 10:05 pm