by Joseph Hefner
Could there be a living human being old enough to speak who hasn’t uttered some variation of those three little words? You know the ones I mean—the words that can solidify a relationship… or destroy it entirely. The ones we may desperately want to declare, but for whatever reason, find ourselves unable to vocalize. Or maybe they’re the words we say so often they’ve lost all meaning: I. Love. You.
Sam Steiner’s 2015 play Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons was produced at the School of Drama from April 3-5. The piece affords its audience the opportunity to reflect upon not only the enigmatic power these words hold for us, but also the profound means through which verbal communication as a whole illustrates, and even threatens, the longevity of a domestic relationship.
“The weight of language has a totally different meaning to me now, especially when communicating with loved ones,” said director Mary Frances Candies, who chose Steiner’s play as her thesis.
Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons presents its action non-linearly, depicting the shared life of its characters, Bernadette and Oliver, (junior performers Ava Yaghmaie and Arthur Langlie) in the lead-up to and aftermath of the passage of a divisive piece of legislation, which limits the words each citizen is permitted to say to 140-per-day.
“Our very first step was to put the play in chronological order,” said Candies. “We kept the linear timeline in rehearsal so we could check in with it while doing scene work. It was important to us to know the exact given circumstances of every scene (there are over 80), so we also spent a lot of time fleshing those out.”
Candies also spoke about the extent to which she and the design team put the love story front-and-center as the play’s primary conflict, set against a politcal backdrop. “We believed that if the audience could attach themselves to this couple then they would be along for the ride of this play.”
Since the play takes place in Britain during a time of political strife, it seemed natural to draw a connection to the present-day political climate in the U.S. and the U.K.
“The conversation we kept coming back to in the room was that the legislation that gets passed in the play feels like it could get passed any day in our current political time,” Candies said. “As unfortunate as it is, that notion helped us connect to the play.”