Lemon Tree on Dreg Street is an offbeat and heart-warming story written by Amy May Nunn under the direction of Miranda Middleton and produced by Danielle Goder, that has quickly become one of my favourite independent productions. Together, they have conjured one of the most joyful and well-crafted performances I might have ever seen. Every single aspect of this performance is filled with beautiful heart and passion.
The stage and set design created by Casey Harper-Wood is whimsical, like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. The titular lemon tree is a like a chandelier covered in bright yellow balloons and large light bulbs, emitting bright yellow light. The other items on the stage are similar to the ones I’ve become familiar with in my time living in share houses, and the milk crates on the front porch brought on the most nostalgia.
The first characters we are introduced to are Twiglet (Ayesha Harris-Westman) and Boots (Hayley Edwards), both are outsiders in society and are the kind of people that are happy with their small circle. They don’t need a large group of friends. Instead, they’re dreaming of buying a van together and visiting Stonehenge.
The story told in Lemon Tree on Dreg Street is that another housemate of Twiglet and Boots, The Possum Lady (Michelle Perera) who has lived in the tree for several years and has taken the next step of marrying their beloved Lemon Tree.
This marriage is only one of the several life changes for the characters; Boots is moving to a new apartment and is about to start working at her mother’s advertising company, and Twiglet has The Vulture (Alex Donnelly) circling overhead, wanting to add their family home in his pursuit to demolish the houses and replace them with more profitable buildings. It won’t be long before Twiglet and Boots will go their separate ways, so they intend to make their last summer they have at the house together the best they’ve ever had.
The character that was the most charming and seemed to get the most laughs from the audience was, Cowgirl, played by the spellbinding Milo Hartill, a new friend of Twiglet’s and a human personification of a mixed bag of lollies.
But I could easily sit here and write an essay on the perfection of every member of the cast. Each and every one of them is electric. The combined talent and charm of the powerhouse cast and crew of Lemon Tree on Dreg Street is something very rare. A perfectly working machine that still has a huge heart, it’s believable and it feels like they’re family, rather than a stiff production team going through the motions.
There is a wonderful beauty about Lemon Tree on Dreg Street, a production with queer people at the helm and tells a completely unique story that is as creative as it is heart-warming. Lemon Tree on Dreg Street is a pure and perfect production to go see with the people you love. And as you sit and watch this production that is so full of heart, you’ll realise that this feeling isn’t manufactured. The love that Lemon Tree on Dreg Street passionately displays on stage is as real as love that you share with your loved ones.
Lemon Tree on Dreg Street is playing now at Theatre Works in Melbourne until the 4th of February.
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Photography by Jack Dixon-Gunn.