Two people in a relationship. A recipe for love, laughter and happiness? Or for disaster? That’s the question – actually, it’s just one of the many – posed by Bryony Lavery’s 2008 drama Stockholm. The title refers to the syndrome where a captive can feel closer to the captor than to those outside seeking to retrieve her, or him. But this luxury house seems at first to be bathed in natural light, a fitting setting for two well-to-do and attractive young people.
Gradually it becomes clear that it is the woman who is the predator in their marriage (or quasi-marriage), a point neatly emphasised by Clare Humphrey as Kali with her lithe writhings and fox-like and russet-clad appearance. Kali is also the Hindu goddess of war and death – and, like that deity, the one on stage is nastily attractive. Only as the story unfolds can we witness her natural possessiveness tinged with jealousy deforming into obsession and near-lethal paranoia.
Her opposite number (you could think of them as the protagonist and antagonist of classic Greek theatre) is Todd. (Marshall Griffin). He has a family, a profession, an interest in cooking and overall seems to be an altogether more balanced personality. But he’s content to play Kali’s increasingly vicious games with sadism underpinning their erotic frissons and to subdue his own concerns to hers.
Both actors are very good, playing with intense conviction, and Janice Dunn’s direction allows space for the words and what is behind them as well as for the physical theatre elements. I’m not altogether convinced by Amy Yardley’s mix of Scandinavian minimalism and symbolic plastic drapery for the setting, though one must remember that this production will be taken to Hungary and Macedonia when its run in the Mercury Theatre's Studio finishes.