Lungs, the new play by Duncan Macmillan, is the latest in Sheffield Theatres and Paines Plough's Roundabout Season. This season showcases three new plays in the new touring amphitheatre, designed for in-the-round plays.
Lungs, which runs for ninety minutes with no interval, is directed by Richard Wilson, whose last directorial outing at the Crucible Studio was the exuberant The Pride. It features just two characters, simply named M and W who are a young couple weighing up the pros and cons of having a baby in a time of environmental and financial security.
Kate O'Flynn and Alistair Cope are excellent in two very demanding roles, managing to feel very natural and believable as the couple, and both move effortlessly from comedy to tragedy, even producing genuine tears at sadder points in the script - tears echoed by several members of the audience.
The in-the-round setting works well for Macmillan's play, which explicitly calls for no props or scenery in its stage directions and aids a feeling of intimacy - which works very well for a play of this nature. The play itself has a very engaging first hour, but the ending feels a little obvious and contrived, with the political points Macmillan is making becoming a little heavy-handed and preachy. This is a shame, because up to this point, the wider political themes were more subtly woven into the domestic. Despite the play's flaws, this is a compelling production with two great leads. As with The Pride, Wilson has a real knack for finding the humanity in the plays he directs and helping us feel as if we really know the characters on stage.
Lungs runs until October 29 at the Crucible Studio, Sheffield. The Roundabout Season continues until November 26.