Melbourne Theatre Company continues its understandably COVID-cautious 2021 season with another two-hander that plays out in a modest single set. Directed by Iain Sinclair, who showed how much impact can be achieved with a minimal set in MTC’s 2019 production of A View from the Bridge, Berlinis the latest play by Joanna Murray-Smith. A playwright focused on words rather than theatrical spectacle, she and Sinclair are well matched for this 80-minute drama that asks difficult questions.

Grace Cummings and Michael Wahr in Berlin. Photograph © Jeff Busby

It’s set in the Berlin apartment of local woman Charlotte, who has invited visiting Australian Tom home for the night. The first third of Berlinis a playful flirtation between these 20-somethings that, after a while, starts to drag. They circle around each other, physically and verbally. There’s even a contrived re-enactment of their initial meeting earlier that night, complete with the distinctive theme music from Orson Welles’ film The Third Man, played on Charlotte’s turntable.

There’s just enough intrigue, however, as Murray-Smith drops hints that neither Charlotte nor Tom are entirely candid, and that...