“the chemistry between Eliana Franks and Kit Redding was intense and electric”
On Thursday evening, audiences were whisked away to an alternate universe where the idea of free speech, that we so take for granted, is limited. Sam Steiner’s “Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons” documents the relationship of Oliver, a free thinking human rights activist, and Bernadette, a divorce lawyer. It explores how their relationship is challenged when they are only able to say 140 words a day to one another.
Audiences were surrounded by the comforting and cozy atmosphere of Cafedral, the perfect setting for this relaxed and casual style of theatre. The set consisted of two sofas and two tables, which worked well when there was a need for the actors to be further away from one another. However, I feel that the actors could have used the sofa and table on stage right a little more. The props, although adding to the naturalism of the set, sometimes felt unnecessary, as though they were being used for the sake of it, without intention.
In sharp contrast, the chemistry between Eliana Franks and Kit Redding was intense and electric – truly the backbone of the show. Their subtle physical contact throughout the show, allowed audiences to understand the closeness of their relationship without being too invasive, worked brilliantly in the show’s favour. I particularly enjoyed director Honor Douglas’ choice to have the actors back to back during their ’sex scene’ as it displayed the couple fading away from one another. At times, when the play felt messy and the scenes slightly disjointed, Franks and Redding were able to recover the scene’s atmosphere through their almost unbroken eye contact. It perfectly conveyed that all their moves and decisions were intentional.
While Franks and Redding’s acting as a duo was exemplary, they truly shone as individuals too. Franks’ monologue towards the end of the play was a perfect of example of this, as Bernadette frustratingly uses her remaining words of the day to try and convey her irritation to her partner. As an audience, we were able to feel and experience this frustration, as Franks used both her physicality and her vocal skills to deliver this monologue without a single word feeling forced. Redding presented a wonderfully awkward and charming Oliver, which acted as a brilliant contrast to Franks’ more serious Bernadette. Redding truly supported the script, allowing the moments of humour to emerge naturally, always arousing laughter in the audience.
Honor Douglas’ direction, supported by Assistant Director Jennifer Lafferty, was undeniably astounding, and Douglas’ vision for the show was clear from the start. Enough about the context of the show was explained in the programs and promotion of the show that audiences were not entirely confused, yet were still in suspense as to how the relationship between the characters would stand this hinderance of communication. Douglas finds the perfect balance between funny and serious throughout the play, of which she should be extremely proud. Alex Tinkler’s lighting choices should also be commended as the decision was made to have the lights go out whenever one of the characters had ‘run out of words’, allowing the audience to share in the frustration of the characters, although at times this seemed slightly inconsistent.
All in all, “Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons” was an extremely enjoyable hour of theatre, displaying a spectrum of touching emotions that can only be described as fascinating.
“Lemons lemons lemons lemons lemons” is playing at Cafedral on 25th and 26th November
Photo credits: Sightline Productions
Review by Tansy Adam