EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS, Roundabout @ Summerhall
How would you get through your day without being able to sing a full song, read a poem aloud or even debate at length which Fringe show to see?
That's the premise behind Sam Steiner's award-winning play Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons, which returns to the Fringe this year in the lovely Roundabout venue at Summerhall. Focusing on the importance of communication and language, it depicts snapshots in the relationship of musician Oliver (Euan Kitson) and lawyer Bernadette (Beth Holmes) before and after the implementation of a "Hush Law".
Under this law, individuals are limited to using only 140 words in a day. We see the young couple's interactions change from excited babble, chock full of long-winded but charming analogies about cheese graters, to stilted coded attempts to squeeze as much meaning as possible into the last dregs of allocated word count.
It's an intriguing idea for a play, and Steiner's sweetly absurd script touches lightly on all sorts of aspects of modern life, from Twitter to Brexit. The scenes before and after the enforcement of the Hush Law are cleverly differentiated, with fast-paced verbal filler contrasted with slow, deliberate and thoughtful interactions, made clear through wonderfully natural and expressive performances from both Kitson and Holmes.
The performers are in perfect sync throughout, and the use of space is especially effective, with only one single moment of touching between them in the entire show. One particularly moving moment when Oliver runs out of words mid-rant clearly communicates the pain of being suddenly silenced by those in power.
The ending needed perhaps a little more resolution of some kind to seem less abrupt, but by that point in the performance, you will already be contemplating how you could handle the challenge of limiting your word count for the day. Thought-provoking, funny and touching, it doesn't take 140 words to recommend a visit to Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons.
Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons runs at Roundabout @ Summerhall until August 20 (not 15) at 12:00.