Lungs, Summerhall@ Roundabout, review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Paines Plough in collaboration with Northern Stage
Duncan McMillan (writer), George Perrin (director), Lucy Osborne (design), Emma Chapman(lighting design), Tom Gibbons (sound design), Lucy Osborne and Emma Chapman in collaboration with Charcoalblue and Howard Eaton (Roundabout Auditorium Design)
Abdul Salis and Sian Reese-Williams

Running time

How do people with an acute ‘green’ conscience square the circle of whether or not to add to the world’s growing population? Such is the dilemma faced by the thirty-something couple who are armed with an arsenal of scary statistics as they consider bringing a baby in to the world.

With neither fuss nor fanfare, the two actors casually appear on a prop-free stage and immediately we are observers of their utterly realistic dialogue delivered throughout with raw honestly and machine gun speed particularly by Sian Reese-Williams.

These two decent, liberal folk manage to be ‘right on’ without being, in the favourite phrase of the Holden Caulfield character in The Catcher in the Rye “a royal pain in the ass”. They each in turn go through the tangled ethics of a subject comically brought up for the first time in an Ikea queue.

From rationalizing to reconciling they come to terms with the issue of off-setting as time falls away in a blink before our eyes with no difficulty in the suspension of disbelief thanks to the skill of these two young actors and to some smart direction.

As their life is telescoped over the piece we experience the tension created in their relationship. The female character’s every thought is spelt and spilt out on to an empty stage with the lack of scenery and props provided easily by the audience's imagination. The utter male bewilderment at the female’s super human expectations of her man seeing into her head is shown with recognizable brilliance by Abdul Salis. Sexual desire and the act itself is not acted out but McMillan’s words and the brilliant interaction of the two actors leave no doubt about that part of their life. The perils of too much thinking over following instinct are the name of the game in this insightful, funny and fast moving piece.

This latest work from award-winning playwright Duncan Macmillan is powerful, thought provoking stripped back theatre well worth catching.

Lungs takes place in Paines Plough’s portable in-the-round theatre called Roundabout that has been unveiled at Summerhall this Fringe and is the centrepiece of the company’s 40th anniversary programme. This brand new pop-up theatre, that is a kind of flat pack theatre erected with only an Allen key and powered from 13amp sockets, will form an integral part of future Paines Plough programmes. It offers a beautiful circular space designed to give a perfect view of the small (ish) centre stage to all audience members.

Paines Plough will also stage relaxed and signed performances throughout the run in Edinburgh for each of their productions.

Aug 2, 4, 6, 8-9, 11-12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22-23