Couples in trouble. The thin edge between love and hatred. These are themes with which contemporary artists, from Bo Goldman in his screenplay for "Shoot the Moon" to Twyla Tharp with her "Short Stories," seem obsessed. D.C. choreographer Wendy Woodson presented her own version of the deterioration of a love relationship in her "Roomers--Version III" last night at the Washington Project for the Arts. Conceived as an evolving collaboration with the performers of the Present Company, "Roomers" was seen in previous versions in Washington and New York earlier in the year.

The core of "Roomers' " structure lies in a move-and-freeze approach that suggests the passage of time. Extremely quick spurts of movement, punctuated by pauses, convey a long-term relationship.

The lovers in "Roomers" are depicted through the evolution of their relationship from innocent delight to violence and hatred. This change is depicted by a favorite device of Martha Graham's: The central figures on stage at a moment of crisis review their lives through earlier incarnations as portrayed by a series of other dancers. The central couple, Matthew Popecki and the arresting Thia Sontag, watch their story acted out in three versions--innocent love, sensual love and finally love grown to hatred. The offbeat rapid churnings of the innocents are a refreshing look at a subject that tends to be treated all too coyly. The second stage, however, is one of cloy waltzings and matings. It is a relief that the violent third stage is light-handed, as Woodson suggests the insult of verbal and emotional rather than purely physical abuse. As the central couple watch, they seem doomed to repeat the cycle. Finally, though, when left alone, they find their solace and hope in each other's arms.

"Roomers" will be repeated today at 5 and 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 8.