Review: Lungs, from The Old Vic's In Camera Series


In early July, The Old Vic launched their In Camera Series with Duncan MacMillan's Lungs starring Matt Smith and Claire Foy. While the pair was supposed to bring the show to Brooklyn in the spring, the current pandemic prevented the production from opening, but allowed the two to be reunited for the show in a socially distanced performance that was streamed all across the world.

Lungs analyzes the ever-changing relationship of a couple as they debate whether or not it's worth bringing a child into the world due to the impact on the environment. From a conversation that begins in a checkout line at IKEA, MacMillan's dialogue is swift and direct, never wasting time, and keeping the audience engaged through laughter and tears.

Over the course of the one act play, all aspects of Smith and Foy's unnamed characters are revealed as their relationship is dissected by the seemingly simple question of having a child. On a mostly empty stage, the pair are in complete control of the environment, bouncing from side to side of the stage as their characters moves through the major life discussions that come with the idea of having a child.


While MacMillan's play has been frequently revived since premiering in 2011, it's hard to imagine a more perfect duo in these roles. Constantly plagued with self-doubt and questioning their very place in the world, this unnamed couple feels as real as can be, serving as a wake up call for anyone witnessing it to start to ask themselves the same questions about how their actions affect our planet. And with plot twists that save the story from fulfilling the stereotypical ending for a play about a couple, it becomes a reminder of how fleeting everything in life is.

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