Richard Davenport


Reviewer's Rating

After pop-up windows, shops, markets and exhibitions, why not a pop-up theatre? The Roundabout, developed by the Paines Plough company, is a “pop-up, plug-and-play theatre… [it] flat packs into a lorry and pops up all over the country…”, all you need to assemble it is an Allen key.

This summer it has popped up at the Southbank Centre as part of the Festival of Love – now in its second year, with love-themed activities, performances, music, exhibitions and free events.

In Lungs a thirty-something couple contemplates the future; their own and the planet’s. They believe themselves to be educated and considerate enough to debate the one in connection to the other; they need to prove to themselves that they are “good people”. And the best place to start a “let’s-have-a-child” conversation is of course…an IKEA queue.

For the next hour their conversations move forward in time and space and are funny, deeply moving downright quirky and most definitely intense.

What are the right reasons to have a child?

In age of climate change and overpopulation should one add to it with a child? Raising a child leaves a carbon footprint the weight of the Eiffel Tower – I’d be giving birth to the Eiffel Tower, she exclaims.

Is adoption a more civic and considerate option?

How about genetics? If you are not all that fond of your in-laws, how would it feel seeing their characteristics on your child?

And our sexual life? By the way, have I ever told you that the way you look at me sometimes, scares me?

As they negotiate sexual politics and climate change, real life happens, emotions run high and their relationship implodes and transforms.

In this day and age, when women in their 30s are habitually depicted as hormone-ridden and desperate to land a husband before their biological clock ticks away or emotionally stunted workaholics; and men are collectively suffering from the Peter Pan syndrome; Lungs offers a razor-sharp view of the couples uncertainty and neuroticism. It is not didactic nor does it pretend to be a trailblazer in gender politics, it is a touching story of a relationship, related artfully by the cast. My only quibbles the occasional unnecessarily long-winded dialogue and the rushed narration of the second part of their story.

Gauging from the audiences’ reactions, Lungs is a play, which appears to be more appealing to an older audience. Maybe it is easier to connect to it as a mirror to your present or your past than as one to your future. At the close there were both sniffles as well as sighs of relief.