With all the craziness happening in the world right now, is it really the right time to have a baby? It’s a question that The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical explore in Lungs, their latest stage offering. In this wonderfully-told 90-minute play with no intermission, a couple wonders whether it’s a good idea to raise a child in an increasingly disastrous world.
Lungs was written by Duncan Macmillan, an Olivier Award-nominated writer and director whose works are celebrated in his native Britain and all over the world. He is behind the plays People, Places and Things, Every Brilliant Thing, and the stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. Lungs was originally produced in Washington DC in 2011, later finding audiences in the UK, Germany, India, Malaysia, and China. Now, it has made its way to the Philippines with direction by Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan.
It’s a breathless watch. Jake Cuenca and Sab Jose star as M and W, and the play unfolds with no props, costume changes, or scene transitions. The two actors share one unbroken conversation within a minimalist white cube set, allowing us to focus on the script about parenthood and life on earth. And what a script it is. It’s intelligent, fast-paced, relatable, occasionally funny, and heartbreaking. In the course of their musings, they also examine their relationship and unearth deep-seated feelings that propel the story forward.
The lack of props places immense pressure on the actors to carry the play but they deliver. Jose is amazing as W, a smart, assertive, and neurotic woman who overthinks the situation and goes off-tangent many times. To be honest, I was frustrated with her character and felt guilty for doing so, until I realized it’s a testament to Jose’s acting skills to elicit an emotion from me. Cuenca, who plays M for his debut stage role, is more subdued and oftentimes bewildered at his partner’s word vomit. His earnestness and his attempt to understand (and catch up to) W is charming. Don’t underestimate this leading man: Cuenca was educated at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York.
I’m sure that this little play will draw large crowds, mostly because of megawatt star Jake Cuenca. It’s a far cry from the eleganza extravaganza that have become big hits here, but I know that audiences will love it because it’s an honest look at the dynamics of a young unmarried couple looking to start a family. I have to warn you, Lungs can be an emotional and exhausting watch. Don’t forget to breathe.
This story is in partnership with The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical. Lungs runs from September 22 to October 7, 2018 at the Power MAC Center Spotlight, Circuit Makati. Tickets are available on Ticketworld. For more information, follow The Sandbox Collective on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; and 9 Works Theatrical on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.