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Arts Garage's production of "Lungs" blows away theatrical trappings

Staff Writer

It took me a good 10 minutes before I started to like "Lungs," the play running through April 14 at Arts Garage in Delray Beach.

That's about how long it takes for your eyes to adjust to the stage, which is completely bare save the presence of the actors Betsy Graver and Cliff Burgess.

And that’s about how long it takes for your ears to adjust to dialogue that runs constantly, stream-of-conscious style, with no break to signal a time shift.

But then, I zipped right from kinda like to besotted love and stayed there, enraptured for 90 minutes with no intermission, basking in the insightful script by British playwright Duncan Macmillan about a couple discussing whether to bring a baby into this world, and the nature of their relationship.

The couple is never named, the program uses W for her and M for him. But we get a full portrait of who they are in bits and pieces throughout the performance: he is calm, a musician and ready to leap forward without looking; she is a volcanic manic trying to grasp at some balance in her life while finishing up a doctorate.

The concise direction is by Louis Tyrrell, who has used the lack of theatrical trappings to free the play, making it whip smart and whiz fast. His dynamic duo of a cast makes emotional hairpin turns, tumbles down conversationally dangerous paths and crosses funny bridges of misunderstanding.

Who knew endless loop after loop about a darn baby could be so engaging? But it is, mostly because either you've had this discussion, wished you could have had this discussion, are having this discussion right now or regret never having had this discussion.

Graver and Burgess are very good here, navigating the flips and twists in the script and sticking their landing every time.

Following their journey, which feels very current despite being timeless, I fell for them both. And I fell hard.

“Lungs” is at Arts Garage, 180 NE First St., in Delray Beach. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $30 to $40. Call 561-450-6357 or go to

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