Melissa-Jane Shaw and Jonathon Young dance around their characters’ difficulties in Stockholm.
STOCKHOLM by Bryony Lavery (Seventh Stage/Nightwood). At Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). To June 3. $15-$30. 416-531-1827. See listing. Rating: NNN
When love looks too good to be true, it probably is. Feminist playwright Bryony Lavery zeroes in on those ooey-gooey couples who finish each other's sentences and think and act as one. As this slow-burning psychological drama unfolds, its clear she isn't buying the act.
Stockholm introduces Todd (Jonathon Young) and Kali (Melissa-Jane Shaw), one of these "perfect" couples with a spacious new home and a romantic trip to Stockholm just days away. There are big problems in paradise, however: deep insecurities, mutual mistrust and a dark, Sisyphean power struggle.
The couple's apparent symbiosis is nicely demonstrated through fascinating bits of household choreography by Susie Burpee; mundane chores like putting away the groceries are rendered as synchronized acrobatic affairs with impressive jumps, flips and spins all over Lindsay C. Walker's modern kitchen set.
But after a few glimpses of their sickeningly saccharine routine, fissures of suspicion appear. Kali secretly worries that Todd has been unfaithful, but despite her best cyber-sleuthing, proof stays torturously just out of reach.
As Todd, Young is best at selling Lavery's punny and intentionally cringe-inducing prose, while Shaw struggles at times to find the sweet-spot for Kali's building paranoia.
Director Kelly Straughan keeps the transitions between dialogue and choreography smooth and snappy, and some of the dance snippets are so watchable, they could easily be extended without pushing the play's already trim 60-minute run time.
Apart from a confusing coda set in the basement that needs more explanation to really resonate, Stockholm ably complicates the modern mythos that monogamy is always the perfect union some couples suggest.