Todd and Kali are a young couple. They live in one of those all-white, open-plan apartments that only exist in interior design magazines. They are self-destructive. But that’s ok, because soon they are going to Stockholm and “everything will be better”.
Jonny Fowler’s videoscape is atmospheric and complements the action deftly
Bryony Lavery’s brutal excavation of modern love caused a stir upon its 2008 Frantic Assembly premiere; now the USS theatre company take it on and their production techniques are very much formed from the Frantic mould. The physical routines that form the production’s skeleton are simple, fluid and well performed by the two performers. There’s nothing new or gasp-inducing here, but it remains visually engaging. The use of a larger physical ensemble is a nice idea, although they feature for a fraction of the production’s length and feel hugely surplus to requirements.
Jamie Sharp and Alice Mountford play Todd and Kali well – we clearly see the characters’ individual strengths as well as their glaring weaknesses. At times this characterisation seems almost too clear; a little more ambiguity between the two would serve the production well. John Lonsdale directs competently and his design is well conceptualised: two black cubes become all the rooms of their house and couldn’t be more different or oppressive than the spacious white Modernity of their apartment, projected on a screen behind them. Jonny Fowler’s videoscape is atmospheric and complements the action deftly, if unremarkably.
Fundamentally, the production doesn’t solve the problem of the play. That is, both characters are hugely vile people and it is of no surprise that their relationship is nothing more than shouting and retroactively applied jealousy, punctuated by apparently gold medal-worthy sex. As a result, we don’t really care when they fight or when they make up. It’s obvious that both are equally trapped by their partner, that they are both captor and captive and that their joint Stockholm syndrome isn’t going to go away anytime soon. USS’ production is solid and flowing but, rather like Stockholm itself, remains cold and difficult to access.