Non fiction

Issue #4

Frantic Assembly's Stockholm

Stockholm       Frantic Assembly          West Yorkshire Playhouse

So what is love that makes us want to suffer so? If a chain is as strong at its weakest link, is an affair as strong as its last relationship? Todd and Kali are on a roll, Cadburys, snuggles, banjo eyed, they share the intimate pet chat of flourishing new love’s vocabulary. The entwined couple eagerly await a romantic break in the Swedish capital, but is the Stockholm they anticipate, the syndrome, an unfathomable bond between captor and captive, both minds kidnapped by blame, denial and remorse?

In a piece as much dance as dialogue, delightfully choreographed and directed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett - the unspoken frequently the loudest and most eloquent - the duo waltz and sashay about their swish kitchen, a threatening ballroom of blades, flames and simmering pots, unaware of how love’s early lustre can descend into the Strindbergian pits of hellish dystopia. Once to the brim with hope and dazzling azure vistas they flounder on a homemade recipe of contented mutual loathing.

In third person they narrate how they met, moved in, decorated the nest and how they’ll spend the boyfriend’s birthday. They make love on the stairs. Todd’s Mother calls, wishing him well. Concerned friends call too, but Todd and Kali have each other - an island of their own creation. When the bear trap of jealous rage snaps, bed pounding can resound in forgiveness, such doubt never reoccurring. But occur it will, with scars, scraps and blackened eye - ‘But I love you’ the tear stained response. The folly of desire and our basest need to love and be loved is pursued relentlessly. The consequences, no matter how disastrous, being an illusion worth succumbing to.

Kali, disappearing to the attic, apparently to make a call, begins to snoop in Todd’s texts and calls, the odd snide nervous joke masking her deep set insecurity towards a message left by the stranger, a woman who threatens the tranquillity of coupled bliss. In a moment of breathtaking visual bravura, designer Laura Hopkins’ dark brown bureau sucks Kali into shallow waters, a desk lamp shining on the waves, highlighting her Pre Raphaelite paleness - an Ophelia drowning in her own self doubt.

Sensational to the eye, Frantic Assembly’s Stockholm by Bryony Lavery, is a stunning feast regardless of your palate. Pained, tormented, sorrowful the bodies of Georgina Lamb and Samuel James sculpt love’s tragedy with a heartbreaking intensity that leaves us in no doubt of how, when catapulted into uncontrollable 

abandon, reason is the first hostage. 

Pete Goodland