A romcom with an irritating title, Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons, has opened at the HP Theatre starring Jenna Coleman and Aidan Turner. Telly addicts will recognise their names. They play two London yuppies, Oliver and Bernadette, who are struggling to communicate properly. Out of nowhere, the state imposes a gruesome new ‘Hush Law’ that forbids citizens from uttering more than 140 words a day.
All kinds of questions arise. Why was the Big Hush introduced? Whose interest does it serve? How is it policed? By overstepping your quota of natter, are you committing a civil or a criminal offence? Why can’t you rely on texts, emails, sign language, Morse Code or semaphore? What about smoke signals? Oliver is a jingle writer so he’s barely affected by the new prohibition but Bernadette works as a lawyer and it’s unclear how she practises without the power of speech. The writer solves these problems by ignoring them which makes the play feel contrived and false. Artistically, his device looks nuts. A play is a work of oratory and to inflict aphasia on the characters is self-sabotage.
The show is nice to look at, the performers are attractive and they wring a few giggles from the lighthearted script. Nothing much happens on stage. They witter about the usual thirty-something stuff. Let’s have babies. Maybe we should split up. Have you been seeing your ex? Their on-off romance might belong to a BBC sitcom from the 1990s but that hardly justifies a West End run. The writer seems to have added the chatterbox crackdown to lend a bit of socio-political ballast to a weightless relationship drama. The thing is harmless enough but impossible to get fired up about. It lasts just 85 minutes and you’ll have forgotten you saw it by the time you get home.
How Not To Drown is the tale of an Albanian migrant, Dritan, who lands in the UK as a schoolboy in the early 1990s.