BWW Review: STOCKHOLM - A Syndrome Not For Everyone
STOCKHOLM/by Bryony Lavery/directed by Kim Rubenstein/The Pico Playhouse/thru January 28, 2019
The West Coast Premiere of playwright Bryony Lavery's two-hander STOCKHOLM pulses with the intense acting abilities of the totally-committed Jamie Wollrab and Kimberly Alexander as the two role-playing lovers Todd and Kali. Directed by Kim Rubenstein, this role-playing starts off as fun, flirtatious and sexy; then takes an abrupt turn into a liaison wrought with suspicion, jealousy, and sadomasochism. With the exaggerated, stylized movements of everyday activities (choreographed by Stephen Buescher), STOCKHOLM plays more like a performance art piece - with words. Only someone desirous of the hot sex Todd and Kali purport to have (accompanied by a fetish for sexual abuse), would find either of these two characters at all sympathetic or someone you'd want to be friends with (although Todd seems to be an able chef).
The play opens with a ten-minute black-and-white clip of Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal - with no subtitles. Although much initial mention of a trip to Stockholm and the inclusion of the aforementioned Swedish film clip, the title has more in common with the condition called 'Stockholm syndrome,' in which a hostage develops a psychological relationship with his or her captor as a coping mechanism. Arguments could be made for either Todd or Kali as being either the hostage or the captor.
Interesting scene design by Anna Robinson setting the stage along the length of the theatre, as opposed to the traditional stage full-front of the audience. With so much action at floor-level, sightlines from other than the front row were periodically blocked. And, with action sometimes taking place simultaneously at both far ends of the stage, trying to focus resorted in lots of heads twisting, not unlike watching a tennis match. Also very interesting, the unhidden method in which set pieces were being brought onto the set and setup by stage crew Sarah Howard and Jonathan Harris.