Threads

Fri 10th – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Jessica Reid

at 00:55 on 17th Aug 2012

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'Threads' is a mystery to me: I do not understand the intentions of the show. The main issue with this production is that it has no sense of direction. Is it aiming to be a sombre warning about drug abuse? Is it trying to examine what makes a ‘good person’ (a phrase much over-used in this show)? Is it a play declaring that mental illness is bad? Is it examining the modern family unit? There are so many strands of thought but none of them are explored in depth and they fail to ever merge to form one clear path. Similarly, the show’s genre is confused: is it a tragedy or a drama or a black comedy? As it never chooses which particular "thread" to emphasise, 'Threads' is a baffling play.

Even were the content not dreadfully confused, this show would struggle to be a success. The dialogue is slow, repetitive and unbelievable with far too many ‘dramatic’ pauses. The acting is strained - although I do think this is mainly the fault of the impossible script. It is terribly over-the-top, with a great deal of shouting, lots of random violence and a bizarrely large quantity of intense stares. The characters are superficial and the acting does not seem to enhance their depth of personality. The best performer is Rory Fairburn as his character, Dan, does seem to possess more than one facet of psyche. However, when he is strangled, his facial expressions are hilarious – which is probably not the intention. Katy Nicholas and Jamie Jackson are wooden and the latter’s characterisation of Nobody is especially shallow and unconvincing. William Sebag-Montefiore’s character, Michael, is flat and his shivering lasts far too long. His actions are too exaggerated to evoke pathos.

There is some bizarre direction in 'Threads', presumably from the hands of James Hepworth. This is most obvious in the tea scene when three performers form a diagonal line, yet only one of them faces towards the audience. Apart from looking ridiculous, it reminds one of the awkward genre clash epitomised in 'Threads', in this case between naturalism and symbolism. The frequent violence is shocking, unnecessary and, consequently, inadvertently amusing. The time and effort clearly spent on the gory and bloody special effects is annoying, as blood for the violence is the least of this play’s problems. And the idea that the house has no furniture in it apart from a convenient kidnapping kit is ludicrous.

'Threads' is confusing and fails to be emotionally engaging: try as I might, I am struggling to find much accessible merit in it.

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disagree

Ellen Smyth

at 09:53 on 17th Aug 2012

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Threads. It’s a punch title, and clever too. The interlocking revelations that reveal an uncertain truth: a sinister thread of despair. The acting is strong, the ideas are big and sinister. Each is neatly woven into the plot. Why then does ‘Threads’ not reach the emotional, traumatizing heights it so desperately aims for?

The foundations are there for it to be a physiological thriller but somehow it fails to engage. ‘Threads’ makes big swooping attempts at exploring the rich tapestry of human cognition and psychology. At first glance there is plenty of juicy subject matter: mental instability, addiction, the unpredictability of human experience. It wants so badly to be one of those satisfyingly life altering plays – the ones that weigh heavily on you long after they are over and dislodge some previous, personal logic. As an audience we want that too, why else would we go to see a play about a mysterious disappearance and a recovering drug addict?

The character ‘Nobody’ (Jamie Jackson) is our guide throughout the investigation which is fitting since he appears to represent the inner conscience. His meddling presence is initially interesting but since ‘Nobody’ does little more than taunt, he limits the opportunities Jackson is given to shine. Our protagonist Michael (William Sebag-Montefiore) is a force to be reckoned with. He puts every last ounce of anguish into his performance and is a masterful actor. Likewise creepy neighbour Dan (Rory Faibairn) really comes into his own during the more violent scenes but like Jackson his potential in limited by production.

The stage is simple and bleak which is apt for the plot. A clinically white table, two chairs, and the remains of Michael's drug fodder tell us everything we need to know: that Michael is a (not so) recovering drug addict. It is frustrating that ‘Threads’ doesn’t delve far enough into its own psychological depths. Without this, it’s just a simple ‘whodunit’. But even with the twist and turns in the plot and the talented cast, the search for truth remains somewhat predictable. Perhaps ‘Threads’ has taken on too much and could be salvaged by re-visiting and re-developing its core ideas. As it stands, the dark themes are approached ambitiously but touched upon only briefly. They are snatched away again without enough time to get your teeth into any of them.

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