Stockholm syndrome doesn’t let go

Stockholm.   Photo by Jodie Hutchinson
Stockholm. Photo by Jodie Hutchinson

Stockholm continues Red Stitch’s not-to-be-missed 2012 season. Why I know that it’s is bloody great theatre: After the show, I sat with my friend and we talked about how it related to our lives.

We didn’t talk about the quality of the post-show wine or about the performances or the design (all great). We talked personally and exposed issues in our own relationships that we’d normally hide. The ability to  reflect on your own life may be the line between entertainment and art; it’s certainly the line between being glad I went to the theatre rather than staying home to watch The Voice.

Todd and Kali are young and gorgeous and have enviable sex . They gutted their house to create a love nest that they never have to leave and ignore phone calls from Todd’s mother. Loving Ingmar Bergman films, they are planning a trip to Stockholm and are practicing their Ikea-Sweedish, as Todd prepares a perfect dinner and Kali checks his phone for messages.

Blending third person description with naturalism, UK writer Bryony Lavery’s beautiful script creates the distance and denial that exists in a destructive co-dependent relationship. The desire to be in the relationship and to be happy overwhelms that voice that knows it has to end but wonders if perhaps the awful bits are the price for the wonderful parts and is silenced by the “attraction of true remorse”.

Director Tanya Gerstle understands the eponymous syndrome and creates an uneasy mood as intense as their sex life. With levels and spaces created by Peter Mumford (design) and Richard Vabre (lighting), the tiny stage feels both isolated and cavernous, and allows Todd and Kali to move and hide what they need to from the other.

Gerstle also lets Brett Cousins and Lusia Hastings-Edge find their own truth in their characters. It’s this kind of honest acting that lets an audience find their own truths on the stage. The relationship they create stage is erotic and natural and fearful, which comes from a remarkable trust between the performers. They let us understand why they behave like they do, don’t let us take sides and almost draw us into the destruction by wanting them to be work it out.

I’m so over leaving theatres and not caring about what I just saw, but I keep going back because once in a while, you get a show like this.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *