Theatre Review: Pink Lemonade (Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh Festival Fringe) ★★★★★

A powerful, punchy new piece from Mika Johnson, Pink Lemonade is a heartfelt collection of the performer’s experiences in life and love. Incorporating spoken word, physical theatre and Johnson’s irrepressible energy, this engaging solo show is full of wit and pathos.

IMG_3705 - Pink Lemonade (c) Max Zadeh
Mika Johnson – Pink Lemonade

An experimental piece exploring femxle masculinity, racial fetishism, sexuality and gender identity, Pink Lemonade asks questions of both the performer and audience. Johnson is torn between two lovers, both of whom appear to want them only on their terms. Simmi is happy to go to bed with Johnson, but at pains to point out she is “not a lesbian”. Toni meanwhile fetishises dating only Black and Brown womxn, seemingly ignorant of her use of racist tropes and cultural appropriation. As negative as these experiences seem, however, they lead Johnson to discover their own worth, and to understand that they deserve more than to be someone else’s secret.

Johnson also delves into their early life, skilfully lip-synching an interview with their mother describing an early rejection of “girly stuff”, and describes times in their life when they were told that “girls don’t move like that”. One vignette describes their experience of coming out as queer and going to the barber to have their hair cut. The imagery of the Barber’s Shop – a traditionally “masculine” arena – and Johnson being told they need to find the right man to “straighten them out” has particular poignancy and resonance.

There is so much to relate to in this production, from Johnson’s realisation that they were giving all in a relationship but receiving nothing, to examinations of what femininity and masculinity mean to each of us, to a hilarious sex scene involving a pink box. Underscored by poetry, movement and original beats, this story of otherness, acceptance and discovering self-worth makes Pink Lemonade a vital piece of theatre, and Johnson an artist to watch.

Pink Lemonade plays at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh until 25th August.

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