May 14, 2019
by Alexa Chipman
‘Lungs’ is an unusual play with jarring, realistic dialogue that feels like eavesdropping on a private conversation. Duncan Macmillan’s writing captures the unreasonable, messy arguments that couples have about relationships, depression, and the daunting task of raising a child.
It opens with an embarrassing altercation in the middle of an IKEA line, and director David Lear creatively stages the actors huddled to one side of the stage, turned away, casting hasty glances back at the audience. Macmillan paints an intimate portrait of the couple as the story unfolds. It may not be the idealized romance found in musicals, but ‘Lungs’ demonstrates the chaotic, untidy nature of a genuine connection between human beings.
Sharia Pierce and Jared N. Wright are phenomenal, giving intensely vulnerable performances. The play’s odd style of stuttered lines, often talking over each other, is occasionally distracting, but reinforces the feeling of sincerity. Pierce and Wright have a natural magnetism together, which carries the play, despite meandering comments about global warming and Earth’s overpopulation.
Sound designer Albert Casselhoff has created a pre-performance experience starting a half hour before curtain. The soundscape walks through the planet’s evolution, from gentle birdsong to honking cars and loud traffic. Casselhoff’s delightfully complex creation blends into the opening scene, adding fascinating texture to the performance.
The minimalist set design by Lear stands in for a series of everyday situations—waiting in a parking lot, lying awake in bed, and even a public restroom. Its streamlined, simple visuals allow compelling conversations to become the focus, rather than an elaborate layout of props and furniture.
‘Lungs’ is a captivating modern love story about real people, delving into the ethical dilemma of whether bringing a new life into our current world is morally right. It asks questions like what it means to be a good person—is being thoughtful enough? While the play lacks focus and pacing at times, it is an intriguing journey with compelling characters.
Presented by Main Stage West through May 26, 2019
Thur/Fri/Sat at 8:00pm, Sun at 5:00pm
Tickets: $30 general, $25 senior, $15 student
Photos by Eric Chazankin
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