Is love more like a fish stew or a Phil Collins song?
Hand2Mouth wants you to consider this in its newest experimental offering, which pings between schmaltzy representations of movie love and a spat about who gets the gravy boat when a marriage ends. The frenetic, non-narrative Something's Got Ahold of My Heart packs playful vignettes, goofy choreography, heartrending storytelling and boisterous rock ballads. But the performers approach their topic with such unapologetic sincerity that they successfully sidestep sentimentality.
The beginning will divide audiences, with Erin Leddy prancing about as she coos French phrases and exaggeratedly arches her eyebrows. This is followed by direct flirtations with the audience and a silly bit in which the performers don headphones and dance alone.
But it's not all love-drunk glee: Leddy and Maesie Speer enact a 1930s romance between a Marxist Jew and her Waspy husband, which we later see crumble. As Matthew Dieckman and Julie Hammond steer a relationship from initial infatuation to troubled standstill, Something's Got Ahold probes passion and heartbreak. The cast members switch roles and genders rapidly, sometimes to frenzied effect. Other times, the action slows, like when performers ask a series of questions to guide audience members down memory lane. Depending on your current relationship status, this will cause either cheer or distress.
What makes Something's Got Ahold work is its earnest exuberance: Performers spin across the stage and trade fierce stares. Gentle cuddling becomes a cathartic wrestling match. The show closes with a spirited rock concert, featuring several original songs. In one, titled "Breaks My Fucking Heart," the performers howl into their microphones and pound their feet, causing the floor to shudder. Hand2Mouth's previous project, Leddy's solo show My Mind Is Like an Open Meadow, wrenched your insides. Something's Got Ahold doesn't quite get there. But with the performers' deeply felt commitment, they just might break your fucking heart—in the best of ways.
SEE IT: Something's Got Ahold of My Heart is at Studio 2, 810 SE Belmont St. 8 pm Thursdays-Sundays through Feb. 17. $12-$20.