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If you like cryptic and outstanding drama, Tell Me Again is for you. Cannily minimalist in production, this two-hander begins with a pair of unnamed characters, played by Jeanette Cronin (who also wrote the quick-witted, fast-paced script) and James Lugton admiring the simplicity of birdlife. They appear to be confessional strangers, mulling over past loves and transgressions, and share a familiarity that serendipitous meetings might create. But do they have a more intimate connection?

Cronin is scornful, vital and difficult, transforming from timid to tempestuous in an instant. Director Michael Pigott matches the pair’s volatile, bracing exchanges; Lugton is no mere mirror to Cronin’s challenging personality. When she objects to being called “sweetheart,” he rallies to name her a “nightmare,” and love reigns again. Both actors are seasoned professionals in command of the performance, and at around 90 minutes the play is never less than gripping.

The bare-bones set, lighting and music build a cohesive domestic landscape of love in its banalities and exhilarations. Tell Me Again is a brilliant and tender exploration of love and loss, and well-suited to the intimate venue of The Old 505 Theatre. (OA)

Until Dec 21, The Old 505 Theatre, 505/342 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills, $18-$28, venue505.com