Current world events, financial realities and personal readiness are concerns all couples grapple with when deciding if the time is right to start a family together. However, most couples do not discuss these issues with the hilarious, unrestrained animation of M and W, the engaging young duo at the center of Duncan MacMillan's LUNGS.
The play opens with W's (played by Rachel Dulude) reaction to M's (Jed Hancock-Brainerd) first broaching the topic of a baby – their baby. After her initial shock wears off, W snowballs into a panicked monologue, and Dulude skillfully rattles off a rapid-fire soliloquy about carbon footprints and overpopulation, fully embracing her character's tendency to obsessively overthink everything. As the even-tempered M, Hancock-Brainerd projects and air of calm and provides a grounding presence to W's fervor, which makes M's own brief moments of impassioned eccentricity even more entertaining.
Hancock-Brainerd and Dulude are to be commended for their exceptional teamwork and admirable stamina. In the midst of zinging one-liners and extremely frank observations, they master a complex script that is fast-paced, often hilarious and, for all of its humor and wit, thoughtful and frequently poignant. LUNGS is performed without costumes, props or sets, but in the hands of these skilled actors, the two characters and their ongoing conversations about the meaning of life and love entirely command the stage.
As the couple's relationship progresses, certain moments in the play become all the more powerful when M or W step out of their established characters. M's non-politically correct diatribe about society, education, adoption and parenting pitfalls stands out for Hancock-Brainerd's absolute vehemence in its delivery, and Dulude uses W's infrequent silences to speak as loudly as her words, the uncommon stillness indicating a particular significance to the moment.
LUNGS asks all of life's biggest questions. The characters explore major global issues – from environmental responsibility to world politics and international conflicts – but also wrestle with highly personal questions of individual morality, what factors constitute a "good person," and the ability to parent well and wisely. No matter how altruistic or self-absorbed, whether a world-wide view or a concern focusing close at home, each issue under discussion proves both universal and immediately relevant.
Parents, please note: LUNGS contains adult themes and strong language.
The Wilbury Group presents LUNGS in the Butcher Block Mill Building, 25 Eagle Street, Providence, RI. Performances run through October 27, 2012. Tickets are $20 (general) and $15 (student/senior) and can be purchased online by visiting www.BrownPaperTickets.com. See the company's website www.TheWilburyGroup.org for more information.
Pictured: Rachel Dulude as W and Jed Hancock-Brainerd as M.
Credit: Brian Gagnon Photography.