Lunch by Marcy Kahan
(2014). Dir. Sally Avens. Perf.
Stephen Mangan, Claire Skinner. BBC Radio 4 Extra, 16-20 March 2015. BBCiPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04htrnt
to 20 Apr. 2015
award-winning comedy has a simple premise – two former flatmates
Bill (Stephen Mangan) and Bella (Claire Skinner) meet every month for lunch and
discuss various topics. Being old
friends, they seem prepared to talk about anything – except their true feelings
for one another. The five episodes of
this 15-Minute Drama series have a “will
s/he, won’t s/he” quality, as we wonder whether the two will ever stop beating
about the conversational bush and come clean.
It would be invidious of me to reveal the outcome;
suffice to say that in Sally Avens’s production we are very much in Notting
Hill or Four Weddings and a Funeral territory, in which two well-heeled
protagonists discuss their lives, the people they meet, the relationships they
enjoy, yet seem pathologically unable to dig deeper beyond the surface of one
another. It’s as if any acknowledgment
of personal feeling represents some kind of weakness, a puncturing of the fašade
of respectability and/or prosperity that governs their lives. There are interesting
situations set up –
such as Bill’s projected appearance on Newsnight
in front of Jeremy Paxman (before he left the program, that it), but in the end
we are left feeling dissatisfied with both of them. We can understand how and
why they are so
emotionally buttoned-up (even the luncheon engagement is in itself a form of
defense, with considerable discussion about what they will eat quite literally
taking up the time they might spent conversing with one another), but that
still doesn’t make us feel rather impatient with them.
Marcy Kahan’s script contains a fair share of laughs,
but they tend to pall in the end.