The weather is getting warmer, sea levels are getting higher, and the threat of the planet’s eventual demise is growing closer. One couple is thinking of having a baby, but with the world as it is, having children could mean the end of their world as they know it.
Jake Cuenca and Sab Jose star in Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs, a fast-paced, ninety-minute conversation revolving around the question of whether or not the central couple should be having children. Over the course of this one-act play, the two protagonists grapple not only with potential parenthood and the sometimes tenuous nature of their relationship, but also with the ominous anxiety brought about by the extremities of climate change.
Jake Cuenca is ready to make his bones in the Philippine theatre scene through his debut performance in Lungs. Having studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York, the film and television star believes that his upcoming performance is a necessary exercise in his development as an actor. “It’s my first play,” says Cuenca. “What I like most about it is that it makes me feel nervous. I’ve been acting for a long time and not many things make me nervous, but this does.” Not to be deterred by the task of performing a verbally dense, intimate play in front of a live audience, the film and television star leans in with his own experiences in attempting to flesh out his character, a patient but bewildered musician and would-be father.
“The script is so contemporary…it reminds me of my past relationships. It’s a great way to share those kinds of experiences with everyone.” says Cuenca of Macmillan’s prose. “I came to this realization that the humor in the play really comes out not in my individual performance, but in the dynamic that I share with my scene partner.”
His onstage partner, Sab Jose, graduated with honors from the Guilford School of Acting in London earlier this year and is fresh off her performance as Michelle in 9 Works Theatrical’s Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! Having previously performed in musicals such as The Wedding Singer and Grease, Jose is ready to welcome the challenge of bringing her character, an intelligent but high-strung PhD candidate and potential mother, to life. “Once you hit your thirties, the questions keep coming. When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids? I can relate to the anxiety present in that phase of life,” Jose says about the major issues that plague the play’s central couple. She embraces her character’s neuroticism and her tendency to ramble.
“She’s a really fun, scary character to play. With all the pressures of motherhood and from what’s happening to the world, she can’t stop yapping about everything. From wanting to change the world to wanting to make the most of her time in it, she finds herself constantly examining the repercussions of having this child.”
Director Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan expresses his excitement for the unique pairing of Cuenca and Jose. “I think their dynamic is amazing. They come from the very different worlds of the screen and stage,” says Pamintuan, who has been overseeing the development of the two leads over the past few months of readings and rehearsals. “To see them coming together through these characters is always a great surprise. It is a great privilege to see them breathe life into Lungs.”
Lungs is a play by Duncan Macmillan, with direction by Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan, assistant direction from Caisa Borromeo, lighting design by Miguel Panganiban, and set and costume design by Jodinand Aguillon.
Heading the production team are Sandbox Collective managing artistic director Toff de Venecia, 9 Works Theatrical executive producer Santi Santamaria, Anna Santamaria as operations director, Maine Manalasansan as design director, Gian Nicdao as social media manager, GM Hernandez as marketing manager, Jonjon Martin as PR manager, Pauline Gaerlan as production manager, Anissa Aguila as stage manager, Luis Yatco as deputy stage manager, and Gabbi Campomanes as dramaturg. At certain performances, the role usually played by Jake Cuenca will be played by Gabs Santos.
Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs will be showing at the Power MAC Center Spotlight, Circuit Makati from September 22 to October 7, 2018.
Lungs is a production of The Sandbox Collective and 9 Works Theatrical, together with Power MAC Center Spotlight as an official venue partner.