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BWW Review: LUNGS: IN CAMERA, Old Vic

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BWW Review: LUNGS: IN CAMERA, Old Vic

BWW Review: LUNGS: IN CAMERA, Old Vic

When Lungs opened at the Old Vic back in October last year, it gained positive reviews for its take on relationships in a complicated world and the strong performances from both Matt Smith and Claire Foy. With a a stripped-back design and only two performers required, it was a clear (and good) choice for the Old Vic's lockdown In Camera series.

Lungs became one of the first shows to stream multiple live performances over Zoom, bringing some much-needed live theatre into homes. Used to help fundraise for the venue and safeguard its future, the Old Vic asked audience members to pay what they would normally pay for a night at the theatre, with tickets costing between £10-£65.

Directed by the Old Vic's Artistic Director Matthew Warchus and written by Duncan MacMillan, Lungs tells the story of a young couple (played by the returning Foy and Smith) as they debate whether to start a family together. From the global impact of having a child and what it means for the environment, to what it would do to them as individuals and their relationship and everything else in between, the couple talk through life's biggest dilemmas.

Foy and Smith's chemistry is as sizzling as it was back in October; in fact, you never would have known that they haven't performed this live for several months. Their strong and raw performances from the start means you become fully invested instantly, and their dialogue is genuine and real: you believe in this couple and care about every choice they're struggling to make.

Foy's character is an emotionally open, sensitive soul who overthinks every decision. The actress jumps with ease from distraught and confused about starting a family, to brilliant comic timing and then showing real raw emotion during heart-breaking moments. You follow her emotional journey every step of the way, and Foy plays it to perfection.

Smith's character is often a lot more shut-off and lets his partner talk, but he performs just as strongly as Foy and really shows what a fantastic reactor and listener he is as an actor - a key skill that is often overlooked, and something that was even more apparent during the live-streamed show due to the close-ups. Smith conveys beautiful vulnerability in unexpected moments and shows that while he may not say as much as Foy, his character has just as much depth and pain. Together, Foy and Smith's performances are subtle, funny and devastating in all the right places.

The creative take of filming this production in a split-screen effect (with Smith on one side, Foy on the other) not only brings a fresh take to this story for those who may have already seen it, but also ensures that not a single line or small action is missed. It also helps bring out the individuality of the characters and how they fit within the couple dynamic, with Foy and Smith not missing a beat with their choreography as they walked around each other on the stage - socially distancing at all times.

As well as the heartbreaking moments within the show itself, unexpected moments of sadness come from seeing the empty auditorium in front of Foy and Smith. But knowing that six performances of this show are being thoroughly enjoyed by audiences in 69 countries across the globe, as well as that several price bands had sold out within less than 24 hours on sale, creates a unique, intimate moment that it's a privilege to experience.


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From This Author Eleni Cashell