It also takes seriously turn-of-the-century architect and theorist Adolf Loos's precept that "all art is erotic." Flush with sex and malaise, Clarke's eleven dancers and actors waltz, couple, and undress to spoken narrative fragments and stream-of-consciousness vignettes, much of it culled and adapted from the letters, journals, and diaries of Dr. Freud's patients. Like the femmes fatales Gustav Klimt painted in that era, the women onstage clothed or unclothed are ready to kiss and be kissed: sexually powerful, yet simultaneously expectant, alluring, and uncomplicated.
In a nod to Loos's call for spatial clarity, Robert Israel's set design is sleek and spare, with cream-colored walls broken by wide doors on each side a far cry from the expected overstuffed crimson cliché of Viennese interiors. A translucent scrim remains in place at the proscenium, eloquently distancing the audience from the angst onstage. Solo musicians appear and reappear, alternately weaving in and out of the action.
In one especially poetic section, snow begins to fall; it's winter in the valley of the Danube. Three ladies begin to skate with long slow-motion glides forward; men with women notched at the hip spin in endless circles on the "ice." The conclusion's hushed gravitas feels just right.