Think being restricted to 140 characters in a tweet is hard? Try being only allowed to speak 140 words a day.
2Cents Theatre, under the direction of Jen Bloom, brings Sam Steiner's 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival hit "Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons" to the Hudson Guild Theatre in Hollywood.
In a very Orwellian turn of events, the government has decided to pass the "Hush Law"—a law that limits everyone to 140 spoken words a day. Now, Bernadette, a family lawyer, and Oliver, an anti-establishment protestor, must learn how to navigate their lives and love in this newly limited fashion.
Brynn Alexander and Philip Asta take on this whirlwind of a show—"90-ish scenes in 80-ish minutes" according to the program—as Bernadette and Oliver, two people just trying to learn how to communicate. Their energy is unrelenting as they bounce back and forth between the free-speaking days of their past, and their current reality. Alexander is calm and collected, and satisfyingly shocks the audience when she finally breaks through her own cool exterior, frivolously throwing away her remaining words for the day in frustration, screaming "Lemons, lemons, lemons, lemons, lemons!" Asta captures Oliver's jittery spirit, which has been born out of his inability to change the world he finds himself in. The two work together beautifully to help the audience keep track of timelines and emotional states, and to keep the fast, scene-shifting show moving along fluidly.
With its focus on the power of words, the play raises some interesting questions on censorship, equality, and the way we communicate with one another. In a particularly poignant sequence, a scene between Oliver and Bernadette struggling to communicate with their remaining words for the day is juxtaposed with a flash of vignettes, highlighting every time they wasted an opportunity to connect, and blew each other off with a "let's talk about it later." The play unapologetically forces us to remember what a gift freedom of speech is.
Very simple technical aspects help to keep the story moving along quickly and smoothly. As it takes place in Oliver and Bernadette's home, the set (Leslie K. Gray) is comprised of only a few key pieces of furniture, such as a bed and a couch. Costumes (Jessica J'aime) are simple and easily discarded and changed out of on stage. Flashes of pale blue light (Matt Richter) serve as the reset button, clueing the audience into the fact that we are beginning a new scene. Harsh flashes of red light are paired with a jarring alarm (Cricket S. Myers) to signify that someone has used up their word count for the day.
You'll have a lot more than 140 words to say about this play.
"Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons" will be playing until February 11th at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Santa Monica. Tickets available at www.2centstheatre.com