By Molly Knox
Sightline Productions’ performance of Sam Steiner’s ‘Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons’ is a fantastic piece of theatre which won’t fail to leave you speechless. Centred around moments in a couple’s relationship, as they are plagued by miscommunication and threatened by living in a society with a law that limits the number of words citizens can say in a day- ‘Lemons’ strikes an important emotional chord in the mundane and dystopian.
The cosy living room set situated in the middle of Cafedral makes for such a beautiful and immersive audience experience. The tiny details and idiosyncrasies of these characters relationships have clearly been poured over by the production team – making clever use of set to signify time jumps, closeness, and tense power dynamics between Bernadette and Oliver.
‘Lemons’ also makes thoughtful use of lighting, making for gut wrenching moments as the two characters run out of words. This lighting choice is clever, although could be misinterpreted as slightly clunky to begin with when the audience get to grips with the set-up of the play and its direction. It’s nice, however, to be proved wrong as an audience member and realise the purpose of the light turning on and off in certain moments and piece it all together. It would’ve been interesting to see the different perspectives of Bernadette and Oliver reflected more with costume and props and the themes of protest, political chaos and suppression represented more visually.
It’s hard to ‘Articulate!’ how phenomenal the attention to detail is. Honor Douglas and Jennifer Lafferty’s direction and vision is so attentive to call backs in the script and treads the line between the sweet and terrifying constructions of Oliver and Bernadette’s world with tongue in cheek urgency. Sparse and dense dialogue is given pause to breathe, and it’s a pleasure to watch from start to end. This is one of those shows you want to go back and watch all over again to catch the bits you missed the first time round – it’s one of those ones you can’t help but sigh with satisfaction at the way everything ties together where actors repeat a shared gesture or reference the script in the way they move.
It feels appropriate to be succinct when describing the acting in this performance. Wow. Just wow.
But seriously, Kit Redding and Eliana Franks have a charming chemistry that glows more and more as the play progresses. Both sink into their roles so naturally, leaving a smile on your face and making you cherish the preciousness of speech whilst you laugh out loud and mourn their abilities to speak to one another freely. Their sharp dialogue and reactions feel grounded in the script and push the play back and forth in time jumps and more stylised segments. To begin with the transitions between some scenes did feel slightly clunky, but this is resolved as the actors get more comfortable with the space. Both delivered lines and shared gentle and ferocious movements which were enough to send shivers. They play being smitten, bitter and insecure extremely well – with range that keeps the keeps the play exciting and emotional. Redding and Franks explore their characters in their fullest and briefest, saying what can’t be said in the empty spaces that 140 words can’t quite reach. They act where words fail and transport the audience to the frustration of the unspoken and the better left unsaid.
Packed with tantalising humour and spinetingling Orwellian drama – this is a ‘refreshing’ inspection of free speech where hardly a second or a word is wasted. This interpretation of Steiner’s ‘Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons’ will most definitively not leave a sour taste in your mouth – it will be very much sweet.
Image credit: Sightline Theatre Company