Wednesday, January 7, 2015


The current re-mount of Duncan MacMillan's Lungs is seventy-five minute tour de force featuring two powerful performers delivering a timely script that is both entertaining and bleak. Rapid fire dialogue that races through the lives of a heterosexual couple, leaving no room for breaks between huge leaps in time, instills the overall piece with a semi-surreal, serio-comic time lapse rhythm that perhaps unintentionally mocks the rigid patterns of a largely dominant social phenomenon - heteronormativity. In 2015, this particular socio-sexual identity may seem a little non-inclusive given the advent of same-sex marriage and the children of same-sex parents. And yet, the power of the script still shines through in the hands of director Weyni Mengesha. Mengesha's very sure-footed, direct approach, set beautifully on Ken Mackenzie's simpified stage, gives Lesley Faulkner as W and Brendan Gall as M (Woman and Man?) the emotional and physical space to comically, and dramatically, inhabit an empty IKEA like show room space with a complex and moving algility, ranging from fleeting non-graphic pseiudo-sex scenes to phsyclaized dialogue that might have become wordy and monotonous in the hands of less skilled artists. A brief IKEA reference highlights the overall sense of a global approach to emotional attachment and home decor as packaged commodities that line the simultaneously pristine and jam-packed aisles of  the popular home-furnishing store. 
As Faulkner and Gall move through the very predictable motions of love, romance, career, marriage, and the ever present question of whether the planet is in any shape to be sustaining more newborns, one cannot help but consider how close we currently are to a very different world when it comes to humanity. Are we already there? Is the apocalypse upon us? Do we continue to carry on as if we in fact do not live in a world without much hope for a civilized and sustainable future?

But there is some hope in this powerful and moving script, brought to life with elements of humour, love, and profound life questions. The hope, however, is necessarily fraught with very real connections to the actual conditions we are living under in 2015, and at the end of seventy-five minutes this spectator, although  impressed and entertained by a riveting piece of thought-provoking theatre, was happy to leave the play with reminders of what he was already aware of from watching the news - as he continues to experience, enjoy, and grapple with what's left of the planet - while  there's still time.

photos by Cylla von Tiedemann

Lungs runs at Tarragon Theatre 
until January 25th


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