Think of all those familiar, oft-repeated exchanges between you and your spouse/lover/comrade, words and gestures batted back and forth like so many emotional Ping-Pong balls. Such is the stuff of "Force of Habit," a collaborative movement/theater work.

Created and performed by local artists Wendy Woodson and Achim Nowak, the piece streamlines and formalizes highly personal material, turning a potentially melodramatic stage relationship into a shaped, rhythmically charged work of art.

Virtual twins in appearance, Woodson and Nowak stride back and forth in precise, cyclic patterns, often meeting in confrontational or passionate poses and then springing apart. Their physical connections are mirrored orally: with sets of phrases ("Gotta go." "Do you have to go?"), directions or murmurings in foreign languages going through countless permutations, taking on new meanings with each repetition. One time Nowak singsongs his words, the next he bleats them out. The two change roles, turning into bullies, bureaucrats, romantic saps. Back and forth they go.

Though the structure of "Force of Habit" may prove a bit too fractured for some, Woodson and Nowak have definitely hit upon those everyday snippets of conversation and gesture that color most long-term relationships and turned them into theatrical signposts. WENDY WOODSON & ACHIM NOWAK -- "Force of Habit," Friday through Sunday at 8:30 at George Washington University, Building K Studio Theater, 817 23rd Street NW. General admission $5, seniors and students $4. Call 676-6577.