Aunt Dan and Lemon is a play that takes place largely in the imagination of the lead character Lemon. Hence, even though at first it might seem like the play is based in the world we live in, because of references to events and characters in our shared reality, there are actually some very distinct features of the play’s world. Some features that caught my attention were:.
- People in this world are judged by their most outrageous beliefs. Their thoughts seem to become their defining characteristic. That is how you are introduced to every character, that is how people seem to be remembered. An interesting case is that of Lemon’s father Jack. In his opening dialogues, Jack rambles on about how difficult his job is and how difficult economic life in England generally is, this was his outrageous belief. In the context of the play where people are arguing about larger philosophical questions, reading Jack’s comically long defense of his own worth, makes him look week, insecure and intellectually inferior to some of the other characters. Which makes sense because Lemon’s disdain towards her father is very clear and this is her way of remembering him, a week, insecure and intellectually inferior man.
- Sex and friends define the worth of your life. In this world of Lemon’s imagination, she brings this topic a lot. She says that she did not have much of a life because “most of the sex she had was with herself” or because “…(while others have their friends) all she had was Aunt Lemon”. In fact most of the conversations with Aunt Dan that Lemon seems to remember, were the ones where she was talking about sex and friends. In fact the two most important episodes from Aunt Dan’s past involve Mindy, someone who has excess of both. That somehow made Aunt Dan’s life much more worthwhile than her own.
- People talk in long prose. Unnaturally long prose, you don’t see anyone talking like that in real life. Only in dreams and imagination, just like the debates you have in your mind with someone and the other person patiently listens to your long rant without interrupting.
- Most of the spaces are indoors, small and dingy, except for a few scenes of garden where Dan and Susie have a conversation in summer afternoon. This may be a reflection of the life that Lemon has lead, forcing her imagination into dark and dull places.
- General mood of the play’s world is I think argumentative, free spirited and sad. The people belong to intellectual class living in 1950s, 1970s and 1980s England. In many ways emotions, in the sense of being emotional for something, is a rarity in world. Every thought is acceptable. Every action is acceptable. Everything from prostitution, adultery, child sex slaves, killing people for ones own interest, all such topics make an appearance without any trace of emotion attached to them.
- The play starts and ends with Lemon’s current house. I think the central point of the play would be Aunt Dan telling stories to Lemon in her little room. In some ways it feels like Lemon never left her little room, she still is very much a 11 year old girl getting influenced by the life and thoughts of her Aunt.
One Simple Sentence
Aunt Dan and Lemon makes us realize the impact that childhood mentors can have on someone’s life.
One Complex Sentence
Aunt Dan and Lemon is a story of a young woman who’s life has been completely consumed by powerful thoughts and personality of a charismatic influencer whom she met as a child.
Three to Five Sentence version of the story
Lemon was an impressionable eleven year old during the summer when Aunt Dan started visiting her and telling her about her life. We don’t know what Aunt Dan told Lemon but we do know what Lemon remembers from these conversations. A life filled with amoral escapades, Lemon idolizes Aunt Dan’s life as wants to incorporate all her thoughts and actions in her own, as any eleven year old when exposed to such ideas would. A failure to do so leaves her sad and delusional. But she has not given up, she is still trying to keep Aunt Dan’s ideas alive, perhaps in a hope to be like her one day.
Following from my sentence summaries, I wanted my Cornell Box to represent how Lemon was cut off from the world of ideas and was stuck with the ideas of Aunt Dan throughout her life. Here is an attempt to depict just that: