Some Like it Hot, The Apartment and Days of Wine and Roses are just a few of Jack Lemmon’s memorable performances. His son Chris Lemmon takes audiences on a beautiful and moving journey through his life.
The St James Theatre studio is the perfect place for this one man show, adding to the level of intimacy and atmosphere during the journey that the audience is taken on over two hours.
Opening with a sequence of clips of highlights from Jack Lemmon’s career, Hugh Wooldridge’s production cleverly allows Chris Lemmon to become his father – getting everything spot on right down to his mannerisms.
By performing as his father, Chris Lemmon allows the spirit of his father to come alive again (although he also looks uncannily alike him as well) as seen by him as his son. But Lemmon junior also proves acting skills of his own, recreating some famous scenes from his father’s films as well as portraying people such as Gregory Peck and Clint Eastwood during the show.
While at times the way in which Chris Lemmon plays these characters can get a little bit carried away and over the top at times, the audience can’t help but smile and laugh at the stories.
It is a very sentimental look at the life of his father and suitable tribute to his life and work, but it does tend to skip over some of his issues – particularly with alcoholism and it would have added more depth and understanding to hear more on how he overcame it.
A Twist of Lemmon (based on Lemmon’s book of the same name), is a very tender portrait of one of the world’s most beloved actors. But it also reveals the destructive nature of working in Hollywood, with Lemmon’s agents apparently telling him to ‘drop the boy’ his son – a difficult situation to be placed in as well as costing him his first marriage.
But despite this, father and son were extremely close bonding over music from an early age, before many years later bonding even further with their love of golf and fishing. The second half perhaps has one too many golfing references – particularly if the audience doesn’t have much knowledge of the sport, but is still a fully rounded production.
Interestingly, there is an undercurrent of resentment occasionally particularly when Chris talks about Hollywood and there is a sense that perhaps his father prioritised his work life over his family – but Chris counteracts this with Lemmon’s regret but doesn’t over sentimentalise it.
This is a very intimate and personal story, better than reading a biography of Jack Lemmon’s life, that works well in the space. Plenty of laughter and sadness involved – so prepare to be charmed.
A Twist of Lemmon appears for a limited time at the St James Studio, playing until the 18th June. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/studio/a-twist-of-lemmon/