'Lungs' is a modern-day love story of misconception and two lovers who find themselves over-wrought and over-thinking the meaning of life itself.
This play, currently at Circa, does more than tell a millennial romance. It touches a raw nerve by letting us in on the intimate discussions of two people who are simply trying to to be good but who often are difficult and vain. Nevertheless, by the end of this play, I was virtually in tears, rooting for them, and doing that awkward blubbery thing where you know you look like your mum when she wells up at the end of every Jane Austen films ever.
While Ms. Austen was writing about love in a time of limited choices, by contrast, Duncan MacMillan writes of a time where an overwhelming number of choices leave us paralyzed.
'Lungs' tells of a young couple who start a conversation about whether to have a baby. Though the set is sparse and the pair wears the same clothes through the duration of the entire play, we are quickly transported to their day-to-day world, from shopping and the initial discussion at Briscoes to their home to a nightclub and back again.
All the while, Aidee Walker (Outrageous Fortune, Step Dave), and Arthur Meek (Hilary Clinton), as the show's protagonists, vibrate against one another in performance, like two atoms sparring for gravity. Their acting is utterly absorbing. They are well-matched in their ability to tell a story and exhibit startling ability to portray of a couple in love but not quite sure of everything or anything left in the world.
"Director Dean Hewison has an incredible knack to cut through the expected to reveal the raw brutal honesty about the things we say and the things we do in love"
'Lungs' is not an easy play at times to watch, but it is a necessary one. As the couple's relationship begins to unravel, it is a hard man or woman who would not feel moved by the devastating heartbreak shown. Director Dean Hewison (How to Meet Girls from a Distance) has an incredible knack to cut through the expected to reveal the raw brutal honesty about the things we say and the things we do in love. On top of that, the play reflects on the worries and woes many feel about growing older in an ever more challenging and seemingly dangerous world. The question that the play throws to us is subtle but strong. What type of person do we want to be for the people we have for the short while we are here?
I must admit, I saw much of Aidee's character in myself at times (which was fairly frightening). However, this play touched me so much because it reminded me of moments in my own relationship - something many other people will certainly experience watching this show. It reminds us, for all our quirks, us humans act in predictable ways.
'Lungs' is a quiet triumph of directing, acting, stagecraft and production by Show Pony. This play will be so familiar for some Kiwis that you won't believe this was originally written for a UK audience. The themes, however, are undoubtedly universal. Uncertainty, loss, love, and forgiveness - this is the story of 'Lungs'. It's what makes us human - necessary, like oxygen to our lungs.