Behind the Scenes

The Lemon Table

man stands holding an orange

About the work


Wiltshire Creative, Malvern Theatres, Sheffield Theatre and HOME in association with the Michael Grandage Company present the world premiere of The Lemon Table by Julian Barnes

A play in two parts, The Lemon Table celebrates a love of music, live performance, and life itself. In the first half we are introduced to an obsessive concert goer who goes to unorthodox lengths to enjoy his evening. In the other, the concert’s composer reflects on the music he has created – his successes, his failures, and the life he has lived.

A darkly funny and beautifully written evening that celebrates our return to live performance and the artists who make it.

“When Ian McDiarmid suggested The Lemon Table to continue our thirty year working relationship, there was no doubt in my mind that it offered us both an opportunity, post-pandemic, to return to the theatre in an incredibly focussed way with a distilled piece of work for one person. These two short plays add up to a kind of tone poem where the experience is greater and deeper than the relatively short 60 minute running time. Indeed, it offered audiences a level of existential debate that so many of us had gone through over nearly two years without access to live performance.”

Michael Grandage, Artistic Director, MGC

Two men separated in time by several decades but united by their advancing years: the composer and the connoisseur.

One, now in his seventies, has been enjoying classical concerts for years, his only frustration the coughers and talkers in the audience who threaten to spoil his evening’s entertainment.

The other, in his nineties, has withdrawn into silence while his critics and admirers await the final coda to his illustrious career – the much-anticipated 8th symphony.

Both strive to maintain their inner and outer peace while attempting to reconcile the mistakes of the past with an uncertain future…

WriterJulian Barnes
DirectorsMichael Grandage & Titas Halder
Set & Costume DesignerFrankie Bradshaw
Lighting DesignerPaule Constable
Sound DesignerElla Wahlström
Associate Lighting DesignerRyan Day
Production ManagerJohn Titcombe
Company and Stage ManagerKate Schofield
Deputy Stage ManagerLucy Bradford
Costume SupervisorHenrietta Worrall-Thompson
Set ConstructionTim Reed & Daniel Gent
Scenic ArtRichard Nutbourne, Scenic Studio
Technical ManagerBarny Meats
Deputy Technical ManagerDave March
Senior TechniciansMatt Bird & Michael Scott
TechniciansJonathan Cox & Matt Gill
Rehearsal & Production PhotographerMarc Brenner
TrailerThe Other Richard
Poster PhotographyJohan Persson
Poster DesignAKA

(In order of speaking)

1st man (Ian McDiarmid)

A concert goer

“A man in his early seventies. Dark suit, loosened, undecorated tie, spectacles.”

A fastidious man, precise in his thoughts and speech, he is often irritable and easily roused to anger.

2nd man (Ian McDiarmid)

A composer

“A man in his early nineties, in a black coat.”

A solitary figure, seemingly happiest in his own company.


The Lemon Table Rehearsals