Ithaca has its own little Off Broadway theatre; the intimate space at the Kitchen Theatre. The quality matches anything, anywhere; one certainly imagines they are in the theatre district of New York when sitting in the “Kitchen”. On the boards now is a two person piece that I highly recommend if you are visiting Ithaca this April – titled ‘Lung’ by Duncan MacMillan.
Witnessing the driving dialogue of Lung is like riding in a speeding car during a chase while someone in the car narrates the scene to you in running commentary to keep you up to speed. You cant catch your breath and your adrenalin is racing – a good adrenalin, mind you. Like a good work out, eventually your heart rate slows and you ease into the pace, following on your own and come to realize that you are witnessing a most intimate moment or two in a developing relationship between two people. And it is riveting, mesmerizing.
When we enter their world, the couple is exploring the next question in their lives, quickly becoming locked in overdrive, trying to figure out what they want – baby or not, consequentially their collective carbon footprints – analyzing every move. That is “she” questions in non-stop stream of conscious, while “he” struggles to keep up with her train of thought. It’s like an audio Kathy comic strip stuck in fast forward. But these lovers and their conscious minds grow on us into full blown nuance, coming to life in all its ever evolving, messy complexity. And the simple opening question at the start of their journey together (and apart) serves as launching pad for the bigger questions of full and long lives. Do not expect predictability. I recommend you come with an open mind and share a lifetime with them.
The bigger questions in life go beyond global climate change and whether or not to become parents. Says playwright Duncan MacMillan “I wanted to write something for two really good actors where they could tell a story unmediated by props, scene changes, costume changes, lighting or sound queues – just two bodies in space letting the audience fill in the gaps.” The play is written for a bare stage that serves up a whole lifetime.
It is also written, as MacMillan states, for excellent actors and has this in the cast of Anne Troup and Jesse Bush, whose work is quite literally breathtaking. Brilliantly paced direction is by Michele Minnick, lighting by Tyler M. Perry, costume design by Lisa Boquist, and original music and sound design by Anthony Mattana.
Lung runs through April 13, with matinees on Sundays. Next up at the Kitchen is Seminar by Theresa Rebeck April 30-May 18, followed by Slashes of Light by Judy Tate June 11 – June 29. To purchase tickets call 607-272-0570or online at kitchentheatre.org. the Kitchen Theatre is located at 417 West Martin Luther King Blvd/State Street in Ithaca, 14850.