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Masthead
A CurtainUp DC Review
Lungs

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A baby?—W
I was just thinking.— M
About the future.— W
Wed have to change how we live,— M
The planet use less — W
no, thats, well yes but thats not— M
okay.— W
Im freaking you out.— M
Not/freaking me out.— W
Completely. You thought youd be the one.— M
Lungs
Brooke Bloom and Ryan King in Lungs at DC's Studio Theatre.
(Photo: Carol Pratt)
There are two characters in Duncan Macmillan's often funny 90-minute play Lungs, the first in Studio's Lab Series of new plays. They are M (for man) and W (for Woman), a couple in their early thirties. She is intellectual, focused on her PhD, the plight of the universe, and various pc causes. He is an easy-come, easy-go kind of guy, a musician who would like to have a child but not necessarily a wife. He's laid back, kind and understanding. Even deferential at times. She's so neurotic she seems to have PMS permanently. They are happy together until . . . they start "the conversation," about whether or not to have a baby.

Staccato, sometimes Pinteresque dialogue with (pregnant) pauses, covers almost every aspect of M and W's attempts to decide whether to bring another human being into a less-than-perfect world. Their relationship goes through many permutations as she takes a stand on something and he favors the opposite and then they switch sides. Their conversations continue for a lifetime. The subject matter is timely; the approach, very 21st-century.

Although the play is part of Studio's "stripped down" new plays initiative, meaning that very little money has been spent on costumes and set, non-stylish jeans and a minimalist bleached wood set by Luciana Stecconi seem just right. And so is the price of a ticket: $20.

As M, the basically decent and sane half of the duo, Ryan King sets just the right tone. What he sees in W, an angst-ridden pain in the ass, is however a mystery. Just as many couples in real life are a surprise to their friends. Brooke Bloom is very effective as W, the conflicted young woman whose mouth hardly stops and whose hands are irritatingly in constant motion. Is it in her character to have to say everything at least twice and punctuate each word with spread fingers? Or is the playwright worried that his audience won't "get it" on the first go round. Some judicious cutting to the carbon dioxide expunged in Lungs would help the already elongated script. Both players are on stage for the entire time and except for the hand issue, Aaron Posner's direction, especially in the transitions from one aspect of M and W's lives to another, is very smooth.

Studio is trying something new with Duncan Macmillan's "rolling world premiere." The play, which just opened at Washington's Studio Theatre, is also opening simultaneously at Paines Plough in London and the Sheffield, in England's Midlands.

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Lungs By Duncan MacMillan
Directed by Aaron Posner
Cast: Brooke Bloom (W) and Ryan King (M).
Set: Luciana Stecconi
Lighting: Colin K. Bills
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
Studio Theater, 1501 14th St., NW, Washington, DC; 202-332-3300; www.studiotheatre.org.
Tickets: $20
Rolling world premiere with performances at Studio Theatre, September 28 to October 16, 2011, and in England at Paines Plough and Sheffield th
eaters. Review by Susan Davidson based on October 2 at 7:30

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