The Mar­riage of Bette & Boo,” the first per­for­mance of the aca­d­emic year by Northeastern’s the­atre depart­ment, tells the story of a son wit­nessing the col­lapse of his par­ents’ rela­tion­ship — just not in the way the audi­ence might antic­i­pate.

“A lot of the most mean­ingful things in the play are the parts you shouldn’t expect,” said Phillip Esposito, a freshman the­atre major per­forming in his first North­eastern pro­duc­tion. 

“Bette & Boo” was written in 1985 by Christo­pher Durang, whose shows are typ­i­cally dark and absurd, said director Jonathan Carr, a lec­turer in the the­atre depart­ment, part of Northeastern’s Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design.

“I love plays that chal­lenge the audi­ence to have indi­vidual reac­tions,” Carr said. “I might be laughing while the person right next to me might be crying, and that’s exactly what I like about this show.”

Carr said the family por­trayed in the play is “unex­pect­edly cruel, but always trying to do the best they can.” The show asks ques­tions that, to people who are building a life together — a stage many col­lege stu­dents are about to enter — cast a spot­light on what can happen when things go ter­ribly wrong, Carr said.

The show, which opens on Tuesday and runs for eight per­for­mances, was put together in just a month and is the first per­for­mance in the newly upgraded Studio The­atre, which was included in the ren­o­va­tion of Blackman Audi­to­rium.

“It’s a black box the­atre so, as an actor, you can be right up against the audi­ence,” said Marlee Delia, a fourth-​​year the­atre major acting in “Bette & Boo.” “There’s no bar­rier — you can be just a foot away from the people watching the show.”

“The Mar­riage of Bette & Boo” will be per­formed Tuesday through Sat­urday at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets can be pur­chased by calling (617) 373‑4700 or online at neu​.uni​ver​si​tyt​ickets​.com.