Altogether Twist of Lemmon is an entertaining and informative evening eliciting many laughs and a few heartfelt sighs from an appreciative audience.
At first glance, Chris Lemmon looks nothing like his famous father Jack. Then he starts to act and the resemblance becomes uncanny. Twist of Lemmon, a one-man play written by and starring Chris Lemmon, in his West End debut, is now playing at the St James Studio.
The tables are turned for the boy who spent his childhood being called ‘Jack Lemmon’s son’; now it’s a story about ‘Chris’s dad, Jack!’. In this stage adaptation of his book of the same name, Chris pays homage to his father via numerous anecdotes about Jack’s life both public and private.
Beginning with stories of Jack’s parents, his eventual start as an actor, both his marriages, Twist of Lemmon portrays a gifted man driven to entertain and reveling in his success.
Jack is portrayed as a loving father to Chris even when the circumstances of his career and a second marriage caused some interruptions and disruptions to the relationship. In the telling of these stories, Chris radiates palpable pride and respect.
Nevertheless, rightly or wrongly, spectres of unhappiness flash on occasion and one wonders whether the relationship between Jack and Chris’ mother is as rosy as it is here painted. More than that, could the father and son relationship be as tight as it is here suggested? Improbably, quite probably.
There is no doubt about the acting capabilities of Chris Lemmon as he realistically impersonates not only Jack but other famous people in the world in which he moved, such as his Odd Couple partner Walter Mattheau, with ease and accuracy.
There is also plenty of opportunity to show off his musical skills, as songs are interpolated within the text almost as a form of punctuation. Some songs are poignant while others are there for their comic counterpoint.
Supporting Chris in presenting this play is a strong production team. Hugh Wooldridge, the renowned director, is at the helm. Designer Simon Wells provides real visual interest with a huge arc light dressing the grand piano in style. The lighting design by James Smith and Simon Clarke’s video design add considerable interest and depth.
Altogether Twist of Lemmon is an entertaining and informative evening eliciting many laughs and a few heartfelt sighs from an appreciative audience. There might be a need for a little judicial pruning of the first half, but this is a feast for fans of either Lemmon, Jack or Chris!
Aficionados of cinema in any form will appreciate Twist of Lemmon.