It’s no secret that Lungs (written by Duncan Macmillan and directed by Weyni Mengesha) is a fan favourite. For a number of Torontonian theatregoers, this remount provides them with the opportunity to see the show for a second or third time and to even bring their family and friends who are visiting for the holidays.
That’s what this show does. It charms people. And its charm stems from the fact that this show has no aesthetic “wow” factor. Mengesha does minimalism right.
Presented in the intimate Tarragon Extraspace, the audience sits around a bare wooden set, created by Ken Mackenzie, and listens to two characters speak for 75 minutes. No intermission. No escape. Just your average modern-day couple and their problems.
While in the checkout line of IKEA, M (Brendan Gall) casually sparks up a “conversation” with W (Lesley Faulkner) about having a baby. She panics. He panics. This anxiety about the future drives the piece as the two go on quite the unpredictable – and unconventional – romantic roller coaster ride.
The duo weave through moments of passion, comedy and tragedy seamlessly and do not miss a beat. This show revolves around performance and script and hits the mark with both, creating an absurd air of honesty that has audience members chuckling throughout.
The scene changes are fresh and unique, though still too abrupt for my taste. Gall and Faulkner successfully take spectators to a variety of places and time periods through the sole use of voice and movement. It’s an interesting concept that begs spectators to keep their focus throughout the play’s entirety, though it appears a bit unpolished at times.
Regardless, Lungs is a play that has bullets for words and Macmillan truly is a master of dialogue. Under Mengesha’s direction, Gall and Faulkner give this fast-paced text a reflective quality and the ability to create the perfect balance that aids to immerse spectators into their world.
Lungs is presented by Tarragon Theatre and is playing in the Extraspace until Jan. 25. For tickets and more information visit www.tarragontheatre.com.
photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann