Aunt Dan and Lemon by Wallace ShawnAunt Dan & Lemon takes us into the world of a young recluse named Lemon (alias Leonora) who spends her nights reading chronicles of Nazi atrocities. Lemon tells the audience about the overwhelming influence in her life of her parents friend Aunt Dan, an eccentric, passionate professor whose stories and seductive opinions enthrall Lemon from the time she is a young girl. The relationship that develops between Lemon and Aunt Dan and the conversations that went on in a small house on the bottom of an English garden form the focus of this play about political orientation and the allure of certain ideas-even if they lead to murder. A forceful play exposing the banality of societys evil, Aunt Dan & Lemon explores the ease with which good and bad become reconciled in the human mind.
Aunt Dan and Lemon: Inconceivable why anyone would revive this Wallace Shawn play
His best plays are not dramas, really, but philosophical memoirs in monologue form. But in the right hands they can be transformed into spellbinding theater. They were certainly successful against the Jews. That disturbing chord, the friendly logic that paves the way for a perversion of morality, is what Shawn sets out to explore. By day the young girl listened as Dan chastised her mother Melissa Errico for questioning American policies in the Vietnam war. Just as Lemon was in thrall to Dan, Dan was in thrall to her hero, Henry Kissinger; the play is, among other things, a perceptive critique of the corrupting potential of personal glamour.
T he Royal Court's assault on the liberal conscience continues with this revival of Wallace Shawn's play. It is certainly an eerie experience, and is excellently directed. But, on a third viewing, Shawn's play, for all its darkly mesmerising power, depends on a number of shaky assumptions. Formally, the play is unusual. It offers us a youthful recluse, whimsically known as Lemon, who spends her nights reading about Nazi atrocities and who recalls the influences on her life: her American father, her mild-mannered English mother, and, above all, their onetime close friend, "Aunt Dan". We see how the last of these, a dazzling Yank at Oxford, captivated the childish Lemon with stories of wild affairs and louche companions. And, if Aunt Dan's worship of Henry Kissinger and fierce espousal of US policy in Vietnam alienated her parents, it clearly left a deep imprint on Lemon herself, and partly explains her fascist apologia.
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The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. Everyone should be as lucky as Wallace Shawn to be known for two totally incongruous things.
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