Preview: Lungs

Despite only seeing Lungs in the very early stages of rehearsal it was clear that this is a production that is not only highly evocative, but one that has an exciting capacity for conceptual experiment as a compelling rehearsed reading.

Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs acts as a conversation through time between two lovers. The unnamed man (Leo Suter) and woman (Emma D’arcy) struggle against one another and themselves as they consider, in particular, the implications of having a child and the frightening personal and global responsibility this may involve. 

There is something painfully intimate about the presentation of the play in its honesty, in its refusal to embellish. It takes place on a completely bare stage, absent of any props or scenery, but the intensity of the heated dialogue seems to fill the space as the passionate, but disconnected, couple strive to connect. Whilst the bodily presence of Suter and D’arcy is engaging, it is very much their shifting voices that propel the performance by their constant conflict. The urgency of their fractured exchanges continually flickers between agreement and disagreement as they desperately strain for some sort of answer that always seems to be just out of reach.

The tenderness and the everyday brutalities of their relationship is striking not just because of the rawness of the script’s content, which makes them so vulnerable by exposing their deepest fears and desires, but its engagement with the audience. Director Howard Coase and producer Rebecca Roughan have placed great importance upon the collaborative nature of Lungs as a shared experience between audience and performers. This idea has informed their decision to draw the audience closer by having the seating encircling the drama as well as having an open post-performance discussion. Roughan, who also produced 12 Angry Women with a similar sentiment, sees the recognition of this relationship and the promoting of a dialogue as a vital part of the theatrical experience and something to be very much encouraged.

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Considering the production’s promise, and the fact that it is also free to attend, it seems that it would be a mistake not to go along and see it for yourself.