Friday, 1 November 2019

Lungs at The Old Vic | Review

These tickets were kindly gifted to me by The Old Vic.

Show rating: ★★★★★
Accessibility rating: ★★★★★

This is one seriously overdue review thanks to a bad case of tonsillitis which put me out of action for nearly a week but, regardless of how late this post is, this is one show that I just have to showcase after it truly blew me away. With a cast of just two and a bare stage, Lungs is certainly more of a stripped back production compared to the all singing, all dancing shows I usually gravitate towards and that is exactly why I loved it so much.

'I could fly to New York and back every day for seven years and still not leave a carbon footprint as big as if I have a child. Ten thousand tonnes of CO2. That's the weight of the Eiffel Tower. I'd be giving birth to the Eiffel Tower.'

The ice caps are melting, there's overpopulation, political unrest; everything's going to hell in a handcart - why on earth would someone bring a baby into this world? 

Directed by Matthew Warchus, Claire Foy and Matt Smith perform in Duncan Macmillan's hilarious emotional rollarcoaster of a play about a couple wrestling with life's biggest dilemmas.


This play has been described as an emotional rollarcoaster and that description couldn't be more fitting, never have I been taken on such a journey of high's and low's in this intimate way before. Essentially what you're witnessing is a 1 hour and 20 minutes long conversation, you almost feel like you're eavesdropping. The configuration of the seating really contributes to this too, I can only imagine how great that feeling must be for those seated on the stage, with a front row view into a couple's most precious and heartbreaking moments.

The barely there set is made up of solar panels and serves as a reminder of the big topics this play handles, such as climate change. The audience witness this young couple weigh up the pros and cons of bringing a baby into a world made up of political unrest and an unstable climate. The timing of this production couldn't be more relevant. There is another side to this play though, the way they handle the details of communication within a couple is something I've never seen on stage before. Everything was just so raw and compelling, I found myself invested in the couple's life in just a matter of minutes. It is more than just an emotional watch however, there are twists and turns that made the audience gasp and genius comedic moments from the very start as we realise that the opening scene takes place in Ikea. 
 
Photos by Manuel Harlan

As for Claire Foy and Matt Smith, I simply cannot think of two people more perfect for this production. Their incredible chemistry, seen on screen in The Crown, transfers on stage perfectly and it felt like a real privilege to witness two actors who know each other so well and therefore bounce off each other with ease. The script is not an easy one to perform but it felt like they'd been performing it for years, not days, as they relaxed into the roles so well. They convey emotion in a beautiful way and handle the difficult topics carefully whilst adding humour and lightness. I take my hat off to them as they truly gave a masterclass in acting. 


As for the accessibility, this is my first review since the work to make the theatre more accessible has been completed! I talked about it in depth in a recent post so if you want a more detailed look then head on over there, but here is a brief overview of what to expect if you're a wheelchair user. 

Rather than using a dark, tucked away side entrance patrons requiring step free access now enter through the beautiful second entrance on Waterloo Road, which still makes me heart happy every time I turn the corner and see it. From here you can take the brand new lift down to Penny, the bar and cafe, and the new accessible toilet, or up to the new foyer. There is a seating area in the step free section, as well as the box office and from here you can access both sides of the stalls. There are now 10 wheelchair spaces, 2 of which are situated next to each other so there is plenty of seating choice. I was in Row N, somewhere I've sat many times before and as always it was an incredible unrestricted view of the stage. You can also now book access tickets online if you sign up to their free access membership, something I really recommend doing. I've already used it to book tickets online for A Christmas Carol and it is so much easier than ringing up! The access at the theatre now is simply incredible and I'm really excited for their future plans to improve it even more. 

Unfortunately you don't have long left to catch this incredible play, it closes on 9th November but if you can squeeze in a trip there are still a few odd tickets on the website, as well as there being a lottery on Today Tix. Look out for returns on the website too! 
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