.Left Edge stages ‘Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons’

In a London in the not-too-distant future, the British government has imposed a strict limitation on the number of words any individual can speak in a 24-hour time period. That’s the basic premise of Sam Steiner’s Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons.

The “whys?” for the limitations are barely addressed (and the “hows?” never are) in what is basically a love story. Jenny Hollingworth directs the Left Edge Theatre production currently running through June 8 at The California Theatre in Santa Rosa.

The 90-minute show consists of a series of short scenes beginning with Oliver (Argo Thompson) and Bernadette (Rosie Frater) “meeting cute” at a pet cemetery and then traipses non-chronologically through their life together. Bernadette is a lawyer, while Oliver is a musician who eeks out a living writing commercial jingles. The relationship has its ups and downs, with Bernadette concerned about one of Oliver’s previous lovers while Oliver has issues with Bernadette pulling in more money than him.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

Their relationship is further complicated by the passing of the Quietude Bill, or Hush Law, as it’s commonly known. How can any relationship survive when limiting verbal communication to 140 words a day?

While issues of privilege, free speech, oppression and authoritarianism lurk in the background, the importance of open communication to the success of any relationship is front and center. What we say and how we say it counts more than how much we say.

The California’s floor has been transformed into a small black box theater, with the audience at one end in “stadium” seating. And the set is sparse, consisting of one bench that also operates as a bed and a dinner table. The back wall is a series of shelves that subtly contain items representing forms of communication (a telephone, a radio, a typewriter, musical instruments, etc.).

Thompson and Frater are very strong in their roles, literally having to turn on a bell from one point in the relationship to another. (Each scene change is noted by the ringing of a bell, which too often gives the show a sense of being an improv exercise.) They both give very physical performances. The accents they use are generally solid and non-distracting, though Thompson’s seemed to wander on occasion.

Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons was a big hit at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It certainly maintains the feeling of a “fringe” show, which is a nice change of pace from our area’s usual theatrical fare.

Left Edge Theatre’s ‘Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons’ runs through June 8 at The California Theatre, 528 7th St., Santa Rosa. Thu.–Fri., 7:30pm; Sat., 1pm. $20–$29. 707.664.7529. leftedgetheatre.com.

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