This post is also available in: 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified))
She is a phd student. He is a free musician. They watch documentaries and art films; they are engaged in garbage sorting and environment protection; they buy fair trade products; they have received higher education; they are constantly judging themselves if they are ‘good people’ according to the popular social principles. A talk in IKEA about ‘children’ reveals their nagging anxiety.
Why giving birth to a child? Does it only conform to the survival mechanism of the seven thousand five hundred generations of mankind? There are 70 billion people on this planet with increasingly scarce resources. Raising a child is equal to the release of 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide, similar to the weight of the Eiffel Tower, more than the carbon footprint left flying to and from between Beijing and Shanghai for 36 years. Does bearing a child add to the misfortune of mankind? Is there really a good prospect in one’s career after graduation?
Does one need a stable job to raise a child? Man cannot understand the pains and suffering of bearing a child, does a child mean restriction in one’s life? The future of themselves and the future of the world are unknown. They cannot make any decision for the moment under great pressure in various aspects of life. In Lungs by British playwright Duncan Macmillan, time and space are rapidly changing in the continuous conversation between the couple.
The audience get lost in such a hysteric pace, unable to catch up with the logic in the shifting scenes. Yet this is just like the cruel reality: there’s no time for you to get prepared for the next step and in a flash the future becomes the past in the way you are worried about.
By Duncan Macmillan
Directed by Elias Perrig
Starring by Li Jialong, Kong Yan
as Her Husband
as His Wife
rEVIEW FROM AUDIENCE
Lungs is surprisingly outstanding. It is written by British playwright Ducan Macmillan and directed by Swiss director Elias Perrig, starring Kong Yan and Li Jialong. Wisdom could be seen through the script and the whole show, and even through the multi-metaphorical seesaw and the two tubes, now going parallel, now crossing each other. The discussion is about whether or not to give birth to a child, to bring him into this world full of stress and pollution, about “political correctness” and whether one is a “good person”. These discussions are what the play aims to explore, and they also serve as the means to reveal the character’s personalities.
The female doctor is talkative, anxious, dominant, highly organized in language, and likes to make moral judgments and is good at forgiving herself. The male musician, however, is silent, easily satisfied and passive. They are a rather typical highly-educated couple.
Kong Yan and Li Jialong’s perform in a relaxed and natural way. They don’t really speak that loud but you can get the sense of humor through their lines. The is no pause between acts so it all goes at a fast pace, which is something really good in terms of directing. The story starts from the birth of the child and goes toward the end of their lives. in a twinkle. The last line “I love you” reduces the audience into tears.
It is about love between a female doctor and musician and the trivial things in life. A stable relationship is affected by the discussion of children. Anxiety in the modern society, identity of self and social identity, relationships with the older generation – these topics are all touched upon in their frank discussion.
Backed up by a good script, good translation, a good director and good production as well, Kong Yan and Li Jialong have presented the audience with excellent, if not their best, performance. In the begining they might have be a bit tense, but it then gets better. They trust each other unreservedly and even in the most emotional moments, they could still act in a controlled manner, which is something I have not seen for a long time between actors on the stage.
The director was the artistic director of the Basel Theatre in Switzerland. The whole production is just neither more nor less. Nothing is amiss. There was a “chemical reaction” on the stage last night.
I love it. I did not see the brutal side of marriage but smartness in trivial things. The cleverly designed seesaw, with the two pointers cutting the space, going up and down so that the power between the characters can be balanced, the cool colour of the settings, and endless self-talk – how ironic! Two incandescent tubes of varying lengths on top of the head switches back and forth in parallels and crossings, which is a metaphor of the pattern of all marriages.
——Na Xiao Yan
The playwright and the director are really wise to present the significant through the unimportant. By constantly changing the scenes and lines, the show made me feel like watching the shift of scenes in a film, which at once unlocked my imagination. The performance given by the two actors is really powerful and penetrating. The stage design is powerful as well. The seesaw, for instance, embodies the balance of life … It is all about how youth in the city nowadays face the crumbling everyday life.
photos credit: Yin Xuefeng