THEATRE REVIEW: Lungs starring Claire Foy & Matt Smith at the Old Vic

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHERE? Old Vic RUNTIME: 90 minutes (no interval)

WHEN? 14/10, opens 19/10, runs to 9/11/19

STOP PRESS: The Old Vic is staging socially distanced performances of Lungs from 26/6/20 tickets

Lungs is a two-hander with barely any scenery by People, Places and Things author Duncan Macmillan about a couple considering starting a family and asking themselves questions including whether it would be an environmentally-friendly decision.

  • Read on for reasons including how Foy & Smith shape up on stage after years opposite each other in TV’s The Crown

As the Extinction Rebellion protests engulf London it’s a pertinent debate although the play was actually debuted in Washington in 2011 before taking its UK bow four years later in Sheffield with a cast including monstagigz favourite Kate O’Flynn.

M and W, a young couple, find themselves examining the scope of their lives together and the world around them when they begin considering starting a family.

The genius of Macmillan’s play is that what we’re hearing are snippets of conversations, those that happen in the most odd and inconvenient of locations – queueing in IKEA – as we develop a sense of what these two people think and how they connect.

It’s only a first preview but it’s clear how strong the bond between these two is as they have a lot of talking over each to do, notoriously difficult to get right and sound effortless, yet not a problem here.

Lungs reminds of Fleabag  because we’re privy to the sorts of conversations that only two people who know each other intimately would ever dare say to each other. And, even then, some of it feels borderline awkward and so cutting edge you’re constantly embarrassed for the person you’re seeing it with.

Not an easy watch for date night perhaps but in director Matthew Warchus’s hands this is very funny indeed apart from a shared and spontaneous gasp-out-loud audience moment. Foy’s W seemingly has the best lines but the writing is actually pretty even-handed and both are rounded characters with Smith’s M occasionally infuriating while W can be cruel.

Andrew Scott proved with Sea Wall  that, despite it’s size, the Old Vic can work as an intimate space and Lungs is performed in the round with some seats on the stage.

The adoring crowd inevitably ended the night on its feet for a standing ovation and, although Foy and Smith may not be in The Crown anymore, they’re still capable of some right royal entertainment.

  • Picture by Manuel Harlan via Facebook courtesy Old Vic Tickets
  • Have you seen this show? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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