Mika Johnson knows how to work their audience. Bathed in a fluorescent pink glow, Johnson surrenders to the beat of their mouth. Words tumble into the microphone held to their lips, though at times, their body does the talking. Blending spoken word, original music and movement, Pink Lemonade is celestial. When Johnson’s tongue piercing catches the light, their smile flashes silver – it is a cheeky, knowing grin.
Designed by Lydia Birgani-Nia, fuchsia boxes mark the stage. One is crowded with lemons, while another houses a single cocktail; more specifically, a Lemon Drop. Served straight up, Pink Lemonade contrasts sweet and sour flavours with ease. Johnson runs through a list of ingredients, the most prominent being their relationship with their own body, as well as with that of Simmi (a colleague).
The passion that crosses their face with talk of sexuality and gender identity is electric. A current seems to pass through their joints, limbs popping and locking into stereotypically male activities. These episodes work to communicate their journey in understanding their queerness, along with that of female masculinity. It is an intoxicating process, one that slinks into the soul.
The concept of racial fetishism is also explored through Johnson’s real-life experiences, a flirtation becoming freaky with descriptions of cupboards brimming with Levi Roots sauces and Jerk Jamaican rice. However, when set pieces are used to simulate cunnilingus, arousal turns to orgasm — an event that is played out with much hilarity. Johnson’s good humour is tangible throughout, despite revisiting scenes that are clearly a source of great pain. Fashioned by Martha Godfrey, the use of strobe lighting is particularly arresting too.
In this, Pink Lemonade feels therapeutic. As a solo endeavour, the sheer effort of reliving past traumas causes beads of sweat to break from their banks, rolling across Johnson’s skin to meet citrusy flesh. They aren’t bitter though. Both furious and fruity, Pink Lemonade is a glow-in-the-dark manifesto exploring queer culture as we know it. Johnson is an invigorating new addition to the British theatre scene, so sit up and listen carefully. They have a lot to say.
Pink Lemonade is playing at Assembly Roxy until 25 August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.