Threads, Hope Theatre – Review

Katharine Davenport and Samuel Lawrence / All Photos © Lidia Crisafulli

Most plays about coming to terms with the end of relationships stem from a playwright’s experiences one way or another, one of the most famous examples being Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. Closure (or lack of) often plays a big part with the author trying to get to the heart of the matter. Threads, which is written by David Lane and directed by Pamela Schermann, tackles amongst other things, facing ‘the truth’. But whereas plays like Patrick Marber’s Closer question the pragmatic value of telling ‘the absolute truth’, self-deception and self-discovery play a big part in the respective character arcs in Threads.

Samuel Lawrence – Charlie

Threads takes place in Brighton where Charlie (Samuel Lawrence) has been housebound for several years. Ever since Vic (Katharine Davenport) left without warning six years ago, Charlie’s life has reached a state of inertia. After years of tracking Vic down, a heartfelt letter from Charlie brings her back to visit one afternoon. Initially thinking he was physically ‘ok’ and angry she had to leave her life in London for a ‘false alarm’, Vic realises that Charlie really isn’t well. In fact he has no heartbeat, doesn’t bleed, doesn’t ‘exist’…

The play itself references Groundhog Day, but truth be told, if cinematic comparisons to Threads have to be made, then it’s Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind  where it resonates thematically. The importance of memories and how they are inextricably linked to our ongoing perception of our (former) loved ones are explored, as are the consequences of trying to obliterate all traces of the past from our lives. Obviously as the play progresses there are revelations on both sides that reveal pieces of the bigger picture, but when they do occur, the emotional eruptions are mirrored by physical manifesations in the real world…

Katharine Davenport – Vic

Playing the frayed Charlie, Lawrence brings a nervous energy to the role, his character desperate to not waste this opportunity to talk, but frustrated at the lack of progress at ‘getting through’. Meanwhile, the defences that Davenport’s Vic puts up in her facial expressions, inflection and body language are all too perciptible – not allowing herself to question her original resolve, for fear that she’ll have to acknowledge she’s made the gravest of mistakes. Couples disagreeing are a favourite trope in plays to elicit emotional tension, as exemplified by with the current run of Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf? What Threads excels in is the quieter, candid to-ing and fro-ing that (ex-)couples have when one wants to clear the air so that there is at least an understanding, while the other stifles getting to the root of the past’s problems.

Emotionally, Threads is on the money, but as developments in the narrative shift the play from naturalism to… something else… the metaphors become more apparent. Regardless of the twists and turns, Schermann keeps the play grounded so that the audience finds the events plausible and suspend its disbelief, unlike Vic…

In Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, Bendrix states that “To be, is to be perceived” – a sentiment echoed by Charlie’s predicament. The End of the Affair also proposes: “Love doesn’t end because [people] don’t see each other.” Threads certainly puts both of these hypothesis to the test, as Vic has to contend with what she sees but doesn’t believe and what she feels, but dares not acknowledge.

© Michael Davis 2017


Threads runs at the Hope Theatre until 29th April 2017.

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