facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close home newspaper-o perm_device_information restaurant school stay_current_landscape ticket train

Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman in Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons. Photo Johan Persson.

Review: Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons

Jess Young

By Jess Young First Published 3 February 2023, Last Updated 13 February 2023

Let me take you back 6 years ago when a fresh Jess came to London to seek opportunity in Theatreland. I’d spend my days at the National Theatre bookshop buying any play I could get my hands on in order to gain knowledge of every playwright that ever lived – an impossible task. As is usually the case when looking to buy something of which I don’t really have any idea about *cough, wine*, I would usually just pick the item that had the most interesting looking cover, this time it was a orange yellow with the words
written on it.

Programme of Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

Lemons x5 as we call it in the office, because rather ironically we can’t be ‘bothered’ to use up our unlimited supply of words, heads to the West End for the first time since the play first premiered at the Warwick Arts Centre in 2015. On the surface it’s a love story set in a world where the government has passed a law under which you are only allowed to say 140 words a day, but if you look deeper it’s not only about political oppression, but a commentary on how we use language as a means to forge our relationships. 

For me – a Social Media manager who often has to find ways to say a lot in 280 characters – it’s also a sudden realisation of how in the current Twittersphere we talk a lot about freedom of speech and how free you can be when you’re limited in how much you can say. In some ways I’m used to it, when I’m faced with an issue of copy being too long, I’m instantly cutting out the ‘really’s and turning ‘do not’ into ‘don’t’ – shaping the way we speak online. 

Jenna Coleman and Aidan Turner play Bernadette, a family defence lawyer and Oliver, a writer and activist. It’s a study on human behaviour, choosing when to save your words to get to know your partner or when to use them up to avoid certain conversations. With only the two of them on stage in their comfy clothes and no shoes, surrounded by a set of everyday items, you feel you are a fly on the wall spying on their most intimate and vulnerable moments. It’s a love story yes, but a real love story with moments that are awkward and messy.

It was a joy to visit the theatre and see something slightly more experimental. As the the play flicks back and fourth between before the ‘hush law’ and after, it engages you to listen as you’re slowly working out the story. This play always has a little place in my heart and it really didn’t disappoint!


Sign up

harold pinter theatre lemons lemons lemons lemons lemons play Review

Related articles