Review: LUNGS at Theatre On The Bay is Like a Runaway Train You Want to Be On

Duncan MacMillan’s West End hit play comes to SA.

By: Feb. 17, 2024
Review: LUNGS at Theatre On The Bay is Like a Runaway Train You Want to Be On
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Duncan MacMillan’s play LUNGS has been described as "off-kilter" and "brutally honest" - and that's exactly what you get with this production. It races forward at a gallop as the pair on stage move through their relationship. There's an element of a runaway train to the piece, but it's a train I want to be on.

The play opens with a young couple broaching the question of whether or not they should have a baby. Clearly a big question for her as she has to leave the grocery store where the conversation started due to almost having a panic attack. The couple then run through a range of reasons for and against having a baby, all the while questioning whether they are good people and if they would be good parents. The play continues through the emotional journey of their relationship, to its conclusion.

The storytelling is so real, with the script feeling almost like it's the inner monologues of these two characters and still somehow intimate dialogue between two people who love each other. The chemistry between Sanda Shandu and Jazzara Jaslyn is tangible. It genuinely felt like they had a comfortable history and knew each other intimately.

I have to go back to talking about the pace of the play. It was relentless, but in a good way. To begin with, I think the pair on stage were nervous and perhaps going a bit too fast. However, they settled quickly and I also became tuned into the delivery style, and it all came together to leave me feeling breathless - which is definitely the point of the piece. LUNGS covers the topic of morality in a world that is under attack (climate change, wars, overpopulation) and especially the morality of having a child in this world. The style of the delivery that director Bianca Amato asked of her cast really enhances this debate and the anxiety that many young people face around the question of having a baby. The pace and the hard-hitting questions definitely make you feel like you can't get enough air in your lungs.

I loved the staging of the piece (design by Patrick Curtis). The stage had a section that was raised and set at a rake. The floor and rake were covered with a marbled design. And that was it. The actors used the edges for seats, the raised areas for a bed, and simply stepped from area to area to show the passing of time or the changing of location. The performance and physicality was so well thought out by Amato and the cast that you immediately knew where they were despite the fact that there were no props or set items.

LUNGS is definitely a show to watch! It's on at Theatre on the Bay until 24 February and tickets are available via Webtickets.

Photo credit: supplied