Lungs at the Roundabout Southbank Centre

Lungs is one of the four new plays being shown at the Roundabout by Paines Plough Theatre Company. Duncan MacMillan presents us with a touching and matter-of-fact debate on the matter of having children. This is portrayed through the journey of a young conscientious couple who stumble upon the question: should we have a baby?


As the good people that they are, they go through all the pros and cons of bringing a new human being into the world. There are already 7 billion people in the world, is it ethical to bring another child to this troubled decaying world? This along with the environmental consequences that come from having a child, make this couple go round and round, trying to figure out a good reason to justify the fact that they do want a child – someone who is a mix of someone they can raise and educate to become another thoughtful perhaps even extraordinary individual.

Sian Reese-Williams and Abdul Salis play these concerned parents in a fast-paced sequence of events. Reese-Williams is definitely the anxious one of the couple, nervously treading the stage as she comes up with new arguments, new fears and worries. Her mind races and it is incredible to watch how she takes us through her thought process keeping us engaged throughout. After careful deliberation they do decide to have a baby, but after a miscarriage, things spiral down unexpected paths.

This is a moving story even though I would not advise it to pregnant women on the fear that they will start overthinking the matter. Truth is, we all want to do things right when it comes to bringing a child into the world but there are things beyond our control and it is important not to become paranoid.

In this play scene changes are quick, done through a variation in the text and tone of the actors. The words describe the action more than any actions on stage, symbolising the passing of time and tricky moments staging-wise like the birth of the baby. I do enjoy this simple and direct way of presenting things, however I believe there could have been a more physical game between the actors to actually take us to the point of tears in the end. We need to strongly believe in this relationship to feel the loss and maybe that could be enhanced by more tender moments, rather than always heated, sometimes exhausting discussions.

Overall this is a beautiful piece beautifully acted by very expressive and truthful actors – it depicts a sometimes pleasant yet often crushing reality that we all need to learn how to accept: that matters of life and death are beyond our control. 4/5

Review written by Sofia Moura.

Lungs is currently showing at The Southbank Centre (Roundabout) until Saturday 18th July. For more information on the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop