Sacramento’s B Street Theater is staging “Lungs,” a clever play about an environmentally-aware young couple trying to make good choices as they move into adult life. The play begins like an offbeat comedy, with one of the more unusual opening scenes you’ll see this year.
The appealing young couple are standing in the checkout line at IKEA, and suddenly, they’re seriously discussing an emotionally loaded topic that they really should have saved for a more private occasion.
Her: “A baby.”
Him: “I was just thinking…”
Her: “About the future…”
Him: “We have to change how we live…”
Her: “The planet. Use less.”
Seriously folks, you shouldn’t start debating the prospect of pregnancy while you’re standing by a cash register. But it makes for a wildly comic scene that reels you in. The fun continues as these nervously goofy prospective parents try to assure themselves that they possess the right values for raising a newborn.
Her: “We recycle.”
Him: “We do!”
Her: “We don’t leave the tap running when we brush our teeth.”
Him: “That’s right!”
Her: “We watch the news. We vote. We march. We… recycle…”
I quickly concluded that I was in for 90 minutes of comedy and social satire – that’s the sort of show the B Street Theatre often does. But an odd thing happens as the righteous young couple on stage become a little nervous as they seriously contemplate the full impact of taking the plunge into parenthood. If you’ve ever been in this situation yourself, you’ll understand.
Him: “You’re having second thoughts.”
Her: “Ten thousand tons of CO2. That’s the weight of the Eiffel Tower. I would be giving birth to the Eiffel Tower.”
Him: “…(You) wouldn’t be giving birth to…”
Her: “And if you have a second, it doesn’t just double, because the chances of them reproducing and how many they might have, and how many their children might have, and how many their children’s children’s children might have…”
This is a show in which the witty dialog just keeps on coming. Yet gradually, the realities of adult life seep in between the laugh lines, and what began as a crazy comedy morphs into a dramatic character study, as these two smart (yet also flawed and vulnerable) characters get jostled by unexpected bumps in the road of life, and have to confront setbacks they never even dreamed about when we saw them standing in that checkout line in the very first scene.
Playwright Duncan Macmillan’s script takes us on a remarkable journey, and actors Dana Brooke and Jahi Kearse do an outstanding job of bringing depth and sincerity to their roles.
I was also impressed by young director Lyndsay Burch, who brings savvy maturity to this tale about life’s ups and downs. This two-character play is one of the most interesting and absorbing productions at the B Street Theatre in recent years, and I really recommend it.
The B Street Theatre production of “Lungs” continues through June 18 at the B Street Theatre in Sacramento.