"The Song of Lunch," which airs Sunday as part of PBS' "Masterpiece Contemporary" series, is something you don't see every day, not even in bardic old England, whence it comes, and where a 47-minute TV drama using a narrative poem for a screenplay would seem somewhat more likely than it would here.
Christopher Reid is the poet whose 2009 book is the source of all the words spoken here, in order, nearly all of them by the wonderful Alan Rickman, and nearly all the rest of them by the equally wonderful Emma Thompson, two actors whose many other accomplishments may be obscured in far posterity by their having appeared in "Harry Potter" movies. Of course, this can be said of nearly every major actor in the U.K. today. There is nothing to be done about it.
The characters are nameless. (I'll use the actors' first names to denote the people in the play, and their last to name the people playing them.) We follow Alan from his office in Bloomsbury — he is an unfulfilled editor of books "at a publishing house of ill repute" and a very minor poet — to a restaurant in Soho where he has arranged a date with Emma, an old flame. Although the characters are (chronologically) mature, a fact I'm old enough myself to find refreshing, this is also a kind of cautionary tale for the socially networked world, in which a mouse-click can raise our figurative dead.