September 06, 2015

Paines Plough at the Edinburgh Festival. Lungs. 20th August 2015.

In Lungs, Duncan MacMillan’s climate change play, having a baby is rather breathtakingly described as giving birth to the Eiffel Tower. (Even though we know that means in equivalent emissions of CO2 by weight, it still sounds absolutely eye-watering.) In essence, Lungs is a “conversation” between two people that speaks volumes about human beings and their relationship with each other and the planet. As beautifully shown here by Sian Reese-Williams (W) and Abdul Salis (M), conversations are so often not conversations. W and M talk at each other, over each other, often crashing into each other in a series of misunderstandings that are all the funnier (and sometimes all the more tragic) because they are so true to life. The emotional roller coaster takes us along at breathless speed. So does time in the plot-line which skips through days, weeks and years in the blinking of an eye. The longed-for baby is heart-breakingly miscarried, then casually conceived after the breakup, and we spectators see this up close and personal in the small, intimate space of the Roundabout. (The performance I saw was so emotionally intense I was still dazed when we staggered out of the tented Roundabout into daylight.) By the time the Eiffel-Tower-sized baby is an adult the planet is becoming a no-go zone for humans and the carefully planned trees planted by W and M have turned into ash. Bottom line: this is a play about blindly not having a conversation, but carrying on regardless, while the planet burns. Sounds familiar.


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