Studio Theatre’s intimate Studio 2nd Stage is throwing itself one hell of a sexy party for it’s 25th Anniversary. Currently staging 2 one-act plays, both choreographed by award winning choreographer and dancer Nancy Bannon, Pas de Deux is risky theater at its best – no emotion held back, no move over-staged, and nothing off limits. The plays – Skin Tight and 2-2 Tango – both focus heavily on movement and human connection and each does so in such a steamy and sensual way that it had me wishing 2nd Stage turned 25 every day of the week.
Skin Tight, written by Gary Henderson and directed by Johanna Gruenhut, doesn’t so much fill the relatively small space upstairs at Studio as it does completely take it over and nearly thrusts the audience against the walls with its intensity. Storming onto the stage, Elizabeth and Tom (played with jaw-dropping chemistry by Emily Townley and Jens Rasmussen) wrestle (literally and figuratively) with the memories of their married life – the ups and downs, the passion, the anger, the blame and the bliss that have defined their lives together. Driven by desire and nostalgia, their story unfolds to expose a tender, undying love for one another that survives periods of dispute, disdain, distance and even death. The beauty of Skin Tight is found just as much in its physical movements as in its script, and Townley and Rasmussen give a breathtaking (and incredibly carnal) performance.
2-2 Tango follows an interracial couple as they go through the stages of a relationship like so many steps of a dance. Written by Daniel MacIvor and directed by Eric Ruffin, the humorous and heartbreaking second play in the Pas de Deux duo is a perfect compliment to its partner at Studio, and beautifully continues the kinetic energy kick started by Skin Deep. Intoxicated by the primal thrill of attraction, Jim (Jon Odom) and James (Alex Mills) first find themselves enthralled and then find themselves making excuses – once the initial high wears off, the fears of commitment and actually falling in love have them both side stepping rather than give away their hearts. Odom and Mills are a perfect pair for this racy pass around the dance floor - and I have to mention the fantastic lighting that seemed to follow with perfect timing on every step (both plays were done by lighting designer Jedidiah Roe). Tango is a bittersweet dance – and we all know the moves by heart.