THEATRE REVIEW: Lemons, Lemons, Lemons starring Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman at the Harold Pinter Theatre

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

WHEN?: 20 January through to 1 April 2023 RUNTIME: 95 minutes (no interval)

Quietude – what if you could only speak 140 words a day?

  • Read on for reasons including how this is a better idea for a play than an actual play

A Government decree on this may have seemed faintly ridiculous in 2015 when this original play premiered at the Edinburgh Festival but after Covid-19 and multiple lockdowns its premise, although Orwellian, doesn’t feel as beyond the realms of possibility.

Coleman’s lawyer Bernadette isn’t in favour of the new legislation (All My Sons, Old Vic) but recognises its merits in a moment when workplace bullying and cyber misdemeanours are commonplace. And, apparently, it’s a thing in Norway and those Scandis definitely know a thing or 2.

Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, to give the play its full title, had 3 sold-out runs at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the Walrus Theatre and its author – Sam Steiner – is working on multiple films currently with stars including Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessie Buckley.

We’re in the 2nd row for this 3rd preview and the good news is that there’s a real chemistry between its stars in this two-hander which is vital if it’s to work and sustain itself across more than an hour and a half without interval.

Director Josie Rourke gives us none of the over-complication of her recent As You Like It @SohoPlace and instead we have 2 actors without scenery performing against a simple backdrop which evokes home and there’s lots of laughs.

Aidan Turner’s musician Ollie (The Lieutenant of Inishmore Noel Coward Theatre) is the more relatable of the pair and gives us charm and charisma by the bucketload but also fallibility.

Coleman is at her most moving when, tearing up, she suspects something’s wrong but, neglecting her courtroom instinct to go for the kill, pulls back. We’re reminded of Jodie Comer’s West End debut at this very venue which must be nailed on for a Best Actress Olivier in April.

The idea of only having 140 words to speak a day evokes the 140 characters of a tweet and reduces the central pairing to despair when they return home from their respective jobs to a relationship when they have barely any words left to sustain it.

And what of children? How could they be best nurtured when words are so limited and what would they grow into?

Ultimately, Lemons did feel a little long despite the tremendous likeability of its central pairing but its central premise is compelling and it’s clear its author Sam Steiner is going to be a name of which we are all to become far more familiar.

  • Main picture via Facebook courtesy Harold Pinter Theatre Tickets
  • Have you seen Coleman or Turner in a production before and what did you think of this 1?
  • Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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