theSpaceUK, Symposium Hall, Edinburgh
Theatre Paradok’s 2021 Fringe offering is a new play about friendship. Lemon (Lizzie Martin) and her best friend, Sean (Leonardo Shaw), want to write a screenplay. For reasons best known to themselves, they decide that the best way to achieve this is to travel to Norfolk and lock themselves away for a long weekend… Despite their painfully posh accents and the fact that they talk a lot about how privileged they are (they’re middle-class, privately-educated North Londoners, whose coming-of-age stories are all centred in Regent’s Park), they don’t have much money; their train tickets have wiped them out. Still, it’ll be worth it if they can co-write their masterpiece.
But it’s not that simple. Of course it’s not (it wouldn’t be much of a play if it were). Friends since school, Lemon and Sean’s relationship is adversarial to say the least. Sean is bombastic and demanding; Lemon is obviously used to him getting his own way. But there’s a hint of a memory niggling in her mind, and it’s making her uncomfortable. What is it? When Sean insists that vodka and weed are the best catalysts for creativity, Lemon over-indulges, and the past comes rushing back, threatening everything.
The past is very much present in this production, as younger incarnations of Lemon and Sean (played by Freya Wilson and Tom Hindle respectively) are onstage throughout, as is Lemon’s girlfriend, Lily (Florence Carr-Jones). I like this conceit, although a bigger stage would allow the cast to do more with it; it all feels a little cramped and cluttered in the small space available here. Director Isabella Forshaw really embraces the non-naturalistic approach, which works well with the material, underscoring the volatile and unpredictable nature of memory and emotion. I particularly like a rag-doll movement sequence (choreographed by Isla Jamieson-McKenzie), which illustrates the details that Lemon has repressed.
It’s not perfect: in places, the storytelling feels a little opaque and the mirroring sequence could do with a little more precision. Adult Sean needs more to do; although Shaw (who is also the playwright) delivers a strong performance, we don’t really learn enough about his grown-up self.
All in all, however, this is an interesting and thought-provoking piece.