Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Aunt Dan and Lemon

by Wallace Shawn

“A compulsive, mesmerizing and thoroughly uncomfortable experience.” –Time Out

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 128
  • Publication Date November 01, 1985
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5103-2
  • Dimensions 5.38" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $11.00

About The Book

Aunt Dan & Lemon takes us into the world of a young recluse names Lemon (alias Leonora) who spends her nights reading chronicles of Nazi atrocities.  Lemon tells the audience about the overwhelming influence in her life of her parents’ friend “Aunt Dan,” an eccentric, passionate professor whose stories and seductive opinions enthrall Lemon from the time she is a young girl.  The relationship that develops between Lemon and Aunt Dan and the conversations that went on in a small house at the bottom of an English garden form the focus of this play about political orientation and the allure of certain ideas – even when they lead to murder.  A forceful play exposing the banality of society’s evil, Aunt Dan & Lemon explores the ease with which good and bad become reconciled in the human mind.


“Luscious, deeply disturbing. . . . Lemon’s initiation into Dan’s cold-blooded worldview is the seduction that shapes the plot.  It is Lemon’s courtship of the audience while evoking this bizarrely sentimental education that makes Mr. Shawn’s play such a mesmerizing experience. . . . The play’s extraordinary goal . . . is nothing less than to make you experience sensually the allure of fascist governments and murderous regimes.  While Aunt Dan and Lemon registered as a brave and provocative work when it was staged at the Public Theater in 1985, today it seems doubly so.  In the aftermath of the American invasion of Iraq and the attendant public debates on pre-emptive warfare, Mr. Shawn’s examination of blurred blood stains in Western culture takes on a newly electric topicality.” –Ben Brantley, The New York Times (Dec 2003)

Aunt Dan & Lemon needs the moral equivalent of a strong stomach.  I mean this as a compliment”.  Plays which attack what we essentially are, plays which expose the feebleness or nastiness of our moral nature, and do it without smugness, are few and far between”.

  The play is an astringent and uncomfortable experience, both demoralizing and invigorating:  like a breath of black, fresh air.” –John Peter, The Sunday Times (London)

“I find this play courageous, cunning, very funny when the author wants it to be, utterly individual and haunting”.  I shall think and think about the play.” –Victoria Radin, The New Statesman

“A compulsive, mesmerizing and thoroughly uncomfortable experience.” –Time Out