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18th October 2016

Review: Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons

An undeniably interesting question is posed to the audience of “Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons”; what would you say with just 140 words a day?

In the current political climate, such a show has never been more relevant. Living under a law they didn’t vote for, a result they campaigned against, young couple Oliver and Bernadette struggle to stay in love. It’s a beautifully simple set, with just two microphones and two actors to fill the stage, and therefore the whole experience is very intimate. Perhaps, for the setting at HOME, one may argue too intimate, as the audience are encouraged to fill a ring of seats around the back and sides of the stage. It’s a well-developed script, with neatly navigated time jumps and consideration for modern relationships that should be effective, but is difficult to connect with.

Beth Holmes and Euan Kitsom have an incredible onstage relationship, as a lawyer and a musician who fall in love under odd circumstances and continue to love under worse. This close relationship, as they explain, is compounded by touring the country together as part of their new company Walrus, with writer Sam Steiner and director Ed Madden completing further study at different institutions across the country. It is a recognisable relationship, with recognisable arguments that young couples can relate to, yet the reality of their portrayal feels exclusive to the audience. Perhaps this would have benefitted from either a more inclusive atmosphere, or a more traditional seating set up.

The concept of the show largely outshines the production itself, as it’s a daring idea to suggest that the public would vote for censorship. It is without doubt contentious whilst touring, but unfortunately the concept is what is discussed in the bar, not the production itself.

As described by Time Out, this show is about “as promising as it can get”, and promising is the word. It is the first tour for the company, and is wildly successful on an unprecedented scale, but it is evidently the first tour. At Edinburgh Fringe, and the shows premiere location, it is easy to imagine that the intimate round-theatre seating was very effective. But perhaps here, on Manchester soil, it would have benefitted from a more traditional set up, to allow the talent of the two actors to shine and avoid any uncomfortable exclusion for the audience.
A fascinating concept, but maybe the performance could have a little more… zest?

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