The flash-forward modernity of “Lungs,” now at B Street’s B3, might eclipse an old-fashioned notion embedded in the play. This is a love story. The two characters are trying to be a couple in this spinning-out-of-control modern world. Contemporary issues complicate their union – plus there’s also the idea of a baby.
The young British playwright Duncan Macmillan, who wrote “Constellations” – which B Street produced last year – returns with a work that is stylistically similar. There are torrents of dialogue punctuated by fluidity of spaces and time. The characters have incendiary conversations and discursive monologues, but Macmillan keeps it moving.
Both plays take place more in knotty, layered regions of the characters’ minds rather than necessarily specific locations. The lovely wooded sculptural set here by Samantha Reno evokes a park or semi-rural forest, but a random cushion might also be a sofa where the couple made love.
Whether Dana Brooke’s W and Jahi Kearse’s M are made for each other can be hard to say. They share values, shop at Ikea together, worry about greenhouse gases and are perhaps too old for clubbing on a weeknight anymore. W’s neurotic neediness seems well-suited to M’s gentle patience, at least until a discussion revealing what they think about during sex.
A baby could change everything – what they think about each other’s lukewarm parents or what they think about their career arcs. Macmillan doesn’t make W the easiest person to live with, and Brooke essays a lovably irritating presence. Kearse’s sharp, honest M sees something in her, and perhaps they only make sense as a couple to each other.
The course of true love never did run smoothly, though, and there will be complications. Director Lyndsay Burch has the action flow around the set, and even though the ideas feel repetitive at times, the momentum usually carries us through. Both intimate and epic, the play works as a creative time capsule of our age – with an old-fashioned love story at its post-modern heart.
What: Duncan Macmillan’s intimate epic about a couple considering having a child. With Dana Brooke and Jahi Kearse.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 17
Where: B Street’s B3 Theater, 2711 B St., Sacramento
Tickets: $26-$38, $8 student rush
Information: 916-443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org
Time: 100 minutes with no intermission