Front Row Reviews

“Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons” Serves Up A Twist in Language

Argo Thompson (Oliver) and Rosie Frater (Bernadette)  Photos: Dana Hunt/Courtesy of Left Edge Theatre

Sam Steiner’s play, “Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons,” at Left Edge Theatre creatively explores the unique power of words. This “out-of-the-box” production challenges us to consider how many words we “really” need to convey thoughts and feelings. It also examines the ways we unsuccessfully communicate without words.

London’s futuristic “Hush Law” only allows individuals 140 words a day. We are prompted to hypothetically consider how such restrictions would impact individual relationships, shift powerful political positions, and effect change.

Set Designer Argo Thompson’s designs the perfect intimate space. The minimalistic setting, featuring a black horseshoe-arranged curtain in front of stadium-like seating, effectively spotlights the two characters. The set also includes a bench which doubles as a table as well as a back wall shelving unit.

Talkative Bernadette (Rosie Frater) and questioning Oliver (Argo Thompson) meet at a cat cemetery where Bernadette’s cat, Dennis, is buried. Oliver is just visiting. They connect and start dating. He’s a musician and songwriter, and she is a lawyer—well, almost. However, they have problems: Oliver’s unresolved feelings about his ex and Bernadette’s high salary. Luckily, the show explores more about their reactions to living together and their feelings than the impact of their jobs.

A bell rings, signaling scene changes, some of which occur too quickly, and deter us from grasping the scene’s full meaning. Scenes switch from before the law to the present day. Both characters talk incessantly before the law passes. One particularly well-executed comedic scene features them driving in a car, both talking at each other that grows to yelling at each other, at same time.

They discuss shortcuts to avoid word excess. Oliver comments on Bernadette’s response to his music, “I ‘really’ love it? Why not just ‘I love it?’” They agree to no more qualifiers.

Argo Thompson, Rosie Frater

Both explore substitutes for speech: Morse code, noises, eye contact, music, and word association. What happens when your partner uses up their words and you have plenty more left to share?

When the law is enforced in the play, The audience quickly feels the frustration that Bernadette and Oliver vividly portray. Director Jenny Hollingworth excels in the choreography and constant movement with the limited props, and the bell announcing each new scene. The Morse code scene is one of the highlights, showcasing a no-words, united messaging, and feeling.

Steiner’s script at times feels uneven, especially when the characters yell out numbers, expressing the limitations of speech. The bell rings. They then yell out more numbers, and the bell rings again. Oliver’s and Bernadette’s relationship often remains unresolved, with conflict hanging in the air. Versatile Frater and Thompson skillfully portray the ever-changing characters.

“Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons,” through Oliver’s “Anti-Hush Law movement,” brings attention to the need for words in different situations. The elite need less words to explain themselves than the middle class. “The elite wear it (words), walk it (words), entitled. Oliver remarks, “They live their story. He believes, “Democracy is about voices being heard.”

I wonder how the “Hush Law” would effect the political situation in America. Left Edge Theatre presents “Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons,” another fun-filled, yet very thought-provoking play that asks profound questions wrapped in the cloak of comedy. A worthwhile adventure.

“Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons,” written by Sam Steiner, Directed by Jenny Hollinworth, Lighting Design by Ryan Severt, Sound Design by Jenny Hollinworth at Left Edge Theatre, Santa Rosa, CA until Saturday, June 8,2024

Cast:  Rosie Frater, Argo Thompson