Hesitation, repetition, over-explaining, interrupting, a moment of silence broken – these are just some of the everyday tropes of speech and conversation taken for granted by a man and woman, right before they have them taken away altogether.
Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons is the sharp and arresting telling of this tale – of the state that limits its citizens to 140 words a day, and the couple who have to deploy Morse code and portmanteau to navigate the imposition. This debut script from Sam Steiner, written while he was still at university, is fantastically quick and youthful, and benefits from a clever concentric structure that juxtaposes life before and after the introduction of the ‘Hush Law’ to great effect. It also comes as something of a shock when the second half turns out to be quite profoundly moving, as the implications of a life without the closeness of language begin to unravel.
As a two-hander performed in the round of the wonderful Roundabout at Summerhall, Lemons… plainly depends more than most on a highly competent cast – thankfully Beth Holmes and Euan Kitson as Bernadette and Oliver have crackling charisma and and endlessly watchable chemistry. Their sensitive and natural portrayals have clearly benefitted from a performance-minded director in the hands of Ed Madden – so many of the scenes strike a spot-on balance between melancholia and everyday happiness, be it a joint rendition of the Fresh Prince theme-tune cut short by the daily limit, or an argument then resolution over Oliver’s actions resisting the government.
If heart-on-its-sleeve distopia is up your street – and frankly why wouldn’t it – then give your life some Lemons…