Frantic Assembly and Drum Theatre Plymouth production
The Drum, Theatre Royal, Plymouth and touring
Stockholm is a play about precarious, destructive love. It was inspired, say Frantic Assembly's artistic directors, "by a real event, namely witnessing people we cared about destroy each other and not being able to do anything to intervene." It explores that kind of relationship which is often described as 'Stockholm Syndrome'; it's an intensely dark love story with a powerful kick.
Bryony Lavery's script is well matched to the remarkable physicality of Scott Graham's and Steven Hoggett's direction. Third person narration mixes seamlessly with naturalistic exchanges and stylised, choreographed sequences, an approach with which Frantic Assembly characteristically excels. The net effect is intoxicating and, ultimately, deeply unsettling as the violent undertones to the couple's relationship are steadily made evident.
The set (Laura Hopkins) and lighting (Andy Purves) are as much an essential part of this brilliantly uneasy world as is the cast and direction, creating both a naturalistic, slick city apartment and a dangerous and, at times, fantastical nightmare. Lighting and set reinforce the intrinsic danger which is increasingly implied as the couple's relationship unravels.
Georgina Lamb as Kali and Samuel James as Todd give mesmeric performances; brutally courageous and intensely graceful. Their relationship starts out as a basically enviable one: they are a smart, bright couple with a clear mutual attraction and an enthusiastic, athletic sex life. But little by little, the brutality at the heart of this relationship becomes clear.
This play addresses that most impenetrable of relationships which is characterised by Stockholm Syndrome, and succeeds in doing so without judgement or condemnation.
In one or two moments, (specifically some of the early narrated passages), I felt the need for a little more pace, but this didn't detract from what is a riveting production with all the finesse one has come to expect from this company.
"Stockholm" runs at The Drum, Plymouth, until 6 October, then tours to the Junction, Cambridge (9-12 October); West Yorkshire Playhouse (16-20 October); Belgrade Theatre, Coventry (24-26 October); Everyman Theatre, Liverpool (30 October - 3 November); Malvern Theatres, (6 - 8 November); Chichester Festival Theatre, Minerva Theatre, (13 - 17 November).
Reviewer: Allison Vale