Oftentimes, love doesn't make any sense — neurologically, psychologically, or emotionally. In a bold and mesmerizing production of Stephen Sondheim's contrapuntal Passion, Zoetic Stage offered an interpretation of love that was irrational, unpredictable, even implausible. The company rendered it beautifully. In the elliptical story, Giorgio (Nicholas Richberg), a military captain in 19th-century Europe, is set to wed a gorgeous aristocrat until he is transferred to a provincial outpost. There, he is gradually ensnared by Fosca (Jeni Hacker), the sickly, clingy sister of a fellow soldier. Resisting Fosca's advances until her adoration becomes all-encompassing, Richberg effortlessly navigated his character's unorthodox transition from revulsion to infatuation. Hacker delivered her best work in years, tapping into reservoirs of melancholy that humanized her Machiavellian character. Director Stuart Meltzer's ambitious staging, which included a central rotating platform and a three-tiered set, captured the agony and ecstasy of Sondheim's vision while studding it with occasional black humor. Ellis Tillman's resplendent costumes and Caryl Fantel's sublime musical direction of Sondheim's haunting score complemented a production that will be a benchmark for years.