Tag Archives: Sam Steiner

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons
★★★

Barons Court Theatre

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

Barons Court Theatre

Reviewed – 9th May 2019

★★★

 

“an unusual, darkish romcom with thoughtful messages and ideas to discover”

 

If we were only allowed to speak 140 words a day, who would we save them for and what would we say? How would we manage without small talk or singing along to our favourite songs? In ‘Lemons…’ (not to waste words) writer, Sam Steiner, creates a stifled world of confined expression and prompts us to consider the implications on both a personal level and as a society. Oliver and Bernadette, musician and lawyer, meet in the romantic setting of a cat graveyard, fall in love and soon move in together. As the relationship develops, the bumps appear; she is jealous of his ex and he finds her work hard to accept. Sometimes they talk about it, sometimes they don’t. When the Government passes the ‘Quietude Bill’ they realise what it will mean to lose what they have always taken for (140) granted.

Steiner builds the narrative with a string of short, non-chronological dialogues, following the journey of the pair’s communication from dreamy beginnings to when ‘I love you’ becomes a habit. He suggests, perhaps a little unimaginatively, alternative ways they might communicate in the future and demonstrates how they waste their word limit as hurtful ammunition. The script is carefully linked throughout with random numbers referring to the daily ration and the ‘Westminster’ theme clearly makes itself heard. But the action wavers between ‘their’ story and the political outside world, not quite focusing on either and not reaching a culminating point.

The strong chemistry between Jemima Murphy’s precise, crafted acting and Charlie Suff’s natural stage presence engages the audience emotionally and director, Hamish Clayton, creates a cinematic effect, punctuating the fragmented scenario with choreographed set changes and accompanying lighting (Gregory Jordan) and sound (Charlotte Brown). However, the uniformity and repetition produces a linear form, lacking overall shape, and the constant soundscape (with the exception Madness’ Baggy Trousers) pushes the audience into the corresponding moods rather than being drawn in by the actors. It only becomes theatrically dramatic, apart from a couple of political outbursts from Oliver, when they decide to spend their last five minutes of carefree conversation telling each other what has really been on their minds.

Although it feels ironed out and in need of a few creases, ‘Lemons…’ is an unusual, darkish romcom with thoughtful messages and ideas to discover. Less explicit programme notes would allow everyone their own interpretation of analogies as, in the end, more than a political statement about freedom of speech or the tenuous parallel of Brexit, it incites us to reflect on our own ability and fear of putting our hearts and souls into words.

 

Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by  Maximilian Clarke

 


Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

Barons Court Theatre until 27th May

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Big Things | ★★½ | April 2018
Owls | ★★★ | July 2018
Sex Magick | ★★★ | October 2018
The Fatal Eggs | ★★★★★ | April 2019

 

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