Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons
Harold Pinter theatre, London, until March 18; Manchester Opera House, March 21 to 25 March; and Theatre Royal, Brighton, March 28 March to April 1
The Harold Pinter Theatre’s strategy in these nerve-racking times in the West
End is to put its faith in big-star names to lure the punters in, come what may. After David Tennant in Good, it’s now the turn of Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman to strut their stuff in Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons.
I guess there will probably be just about enough fans of Poldark and
Emmerdale – where these two actors respectively made their names – to
keep the theatre more or less full for the first three weeks or so of the run.
Beyond that, it will all come down to the quality of the play, and that is, in this instance, a bit of a problem.
Mystifyingly, Sam Steiner’s short work became a cultish hit in 2015 with its
premise that in some future dystopian world the whole populace will be
confined to just 140 words a day. That is therefore the limit to the number of
words Tennant and Coleman can say in their scenes which each cover a single day of their fledgling relationship.
Even with the necessary editing that this involves, what the two actors have to say still turns out to be every bit as monotonous and receptive as the play’s
title. Nothing they have to say is remotely funny, deep or interesting. Worse still, perhaps, there is not a huge amount of chemistry between the pair, and, with just them and Robert Jones’s bookcase-like set to look at all evening, I soon found my eyelids drooping.
Turner and Coleman have faces that work very well on camera, but on the
stage, certainly so far as this production is concerned, they can’t hold it together. Poldark fans hoping for at least a glimpse of Turner’s famous chest are disappointed even in this respect.
The pair should be aware that they have a duty of care to their fans not to
gratuitously set out to bore them rigid. It may well be they like the idea of this play as it involves them both being on the stage all the time, speaking almost continually, albeit in short bursts, but they should nevertheless have seen what ponderous, pretentious, piffle it all is.