Brendan Gall and Lesley Faulkner inhabit Lungs’ cute, complex couple.
LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan (Tarragon, 30 Bridgman). Runs to March 30. $21-$53, $13 rush Friday and Sunday. 416-531-1827. See listings. Rating: NNNN
Many couples struggle with the question of whether or not to have a child.
It's at the core of Duncan Macmillan's Lungs, threatening at different moments to tear apart a young couple called simply M (Brendan Gall) and W (Lesley Faulkner) or cement their relationship.
In the hands of director Weyni Mengesha and the actors, the thorny discussion makes for thrilling theatre even if the characters' back-and-forthing often covers the same ground.
It's M who first brings up the topic as the two shop in Ikea (there are lots of comic moments, laughs grounded in the personalities of W and M) leading to an angst attack for W.
Though they see themselves as good people, concerned with their carbon footprint and so on, they wonder if they should bring a child into a troubled world, whether they'll turn into their own parents, and if they're the right people to raise an impressionable infant.
The baby issue spills over into the other stresses facing the couple, including affairs, attitudes toward sex, jobs and whether they should get married. Macmillan's clever script has the feel of everyday speech rather than scripted lines, but the play's final third, when these other matters come to the fore, is its most impressive.
W is the more voluble of the two, constantly to-and-froing in her opinions and self-confidence, and Faulkner expertly catches the woman's anxiety and tendency to tie herself in emotional knots. M seems more grounded, but Gall suggests there's on ocean of neurosis beneath the surface; he just doesn't like to talk about it.
Macmillan uses instantaneous transitions in time and space, and the direction makes those shifts seamless and sometimes breathtaking. The last few minutes of the play, telescoping several decades into recognizable phrases that tell us where and when we are, are beautifully realized.