“When life hands you lemons, you just make lemonade” is the sentiment from Requiem for a Dream actress Heather Litteer, who has written and performed Lemonade. The critically acclaimed autobiographical theatre show makes its European premiere at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, showcasing Litteer’s acting capabilities in this powerful, humorous and moving show, which explores how women are treated on and off screen. It certainly informs the crowd that she can do more than the roles she is typecast for.

Director Ellie Heyman, who has worked on shows such as Orlando and Hedda Gabler, sees that Litteer does a fine job on stage, highlighting that women should take power back. Litteer, actress, chanteuse, who unfortunately received the “Ass to Ass” reputation for one scene in that film with Jennifer Connolly, expresses her frustrations with the more seedy and misogynistic aspects of the film industry.  Evocative, provocative, its has bold narrative style which sees her repeatedly get asked to play a role in a film while having intermittent conversations with her mum. Then comes a lighting change (the lights turn pink) and she talks out the script, setting the context of the role by acting out the scene from the perspective of most of characters involved.

A self-written solo show tracing the journey of a girl from her Southern state childhood to her life as a struggling actress residing in New York, Litteer humorously handles her relationship with her mum, womanly issues (the expectation of marriage and children) whilst also creating a dark setting, somewhat reminiscent of Hubert Selby Jr’s Last Exit to Brooklyn. Booze, drugs, anxiety, illness and injury all make an appearance on this understated stage. Brash, Lemonade scours the notion of taking the sour with the sweet, ruminating on what it must have been like to be the nameless character in that sex scene that audiences abhorred. Exploring the absurd conservatism of our mediaverse, Lemonade successfully turns female exploitation on its head. Litteer hits home the virtues of persistence and never giving up, despite suffering the repercussions of poor decisions. A strong-willed performance, a must-see.

Worth going?
If it’s not too raw for you

Lemonade runs until 27th August at Assembly Rooms’ Drawing Room, 16:30.