This show was never going to have a Broadway musical ending, especially when the words “some ties just can’t be cut” appear on the front cover of the programme for Threads. Some familial and friendship ties people might not want to be cut, but the notion that there are circumstances in which it would not be possible even if desirable brings to mind the philosophy attributed to Jean-Paul Sartre, “hell is other people”. There’s a sense that Vic (Katharine Davenport) is feeling distinctly uneasy being held against her will, though Charlie (Samuel Lawrence) is not engaging in force or violence: something paranormal is going on, preventing Vic from making her departure. That is just as well, else the play would be even shorter than it already is.
It is with some regret that the said paranormal forces physically at work (off-stage, of course) weren’t all that convincing. Perhaps the fault is mine, for spending too long trying to work out the mechanics of the situation. There are too many metaphors in this play – even the relaxation of parking regulations in the evenings is some sort of sign that Vic can stay. Possibly. Maybe. I eventually gave up trying to figure out what precisely was going on, let alone consider its implications. A continuous and highly irritating monotone whirring noise didn’t help. It went on for the entire play, soft enough to not affect hearing of the dialogue, but loud enough to get on my nerves. It may have had some atmospheric purpose to start with, but this was not only overcooked but thoroughly incinerated before long.
The available stage space was used well; almost too well, jutting out into the audience, disrupting sightlines at some point irrespective of one’s vantage point. I liked an early spiel regarding how complicated making a cup of tea for someone is these days, having to take into consideration possible lactose intolerance and so on, and it’s that relatively light sense of humour that kept breaking through, however dark and intense the storyline itself got. “I think we should all get on with life and move forwards,” declares Vic, and for reasons (not entirely) explained in the narrative, Charlie just can’t do that. The ending was very inconclusive: had I not known this is a one-act production, I honestly would have thought the house lights had come on for the interval.
To an extent, this is a play that felt like it was covering ground that has already been explored elsewhere. Holding on to the past and wishing for a return to halcyon days is usually a position taken in a theatre show by a much older character than Charlie. And, like Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Charlie doesn’t adapt to the ever-changing world around him, so the eventual outcome must be similar too. Although, as I say, Threads ends so abruptly that the audience can never be entirely certain.
What could have been a rather poignant production is instead too melodramatic. The overacting started to border on comical towards the end, and it was therefore difficult for me to feel much empathy for either character. A late plot twist restores some interest to a storyline that largely plods. All I will say here about that moment is that it’s not for the squeamish or fainthearted. This is a production with moments of brilliance but overall the points it makes could have been asserted in a more subtle manner.
Review by Chris Omaweng
“All over the world there are these invisible threads stretching between lovers and husbands and wives and couples, that if you could see them, you’d get caught up in them, you’d suffocate”
It’s been 5 years. Vic’s moved on. Charlie’s a medical mystery. And nothing’s making sense. Held together by their past, torn apart by their present and unsure if there even is a future. Their explosive encounter makes them question everything they know and ask why they can’t break free of the threads that bind them together.
David Lane’s thrilling two-hander explores love, loss and what happens when life goes on, but you can’t.
Writer: David Lane
Director: Pamela Schermann
11 – 29 Apr 2017