A co-production by Arteria Theatre and Time Zone Theatre, David Lane’s Threads is both supernatural thriller and domestic drama all rolled into one seventy-five minutes’ long gut-punch, excellently directed by Pamela Schermann.
In a rundown flat, Vic (Katharine Davenport) and Charlie (Samuel Lawrence) see each other for the first time since the ending of their relationship- one that, much like most, was both toxic and wonderful at times, experienced and remembered differently by both individuals. Vic has moved on, married, and remains steadfast in her moving forward. And in being left, Charlie is now in a state of living death, rotting from the inside out, unable to leave the flat they shared. As the two explosively reunite, secrets come to light, including how they’ve both spent the last five years.
David Lane’s writing is beautiful and complex, exploring how life moves on even when we’re not ready to. Love lost is not new material, it’s been investigated endlessly, but David Lane’s script brings something new and magical to the subject- somewhere between supernatural and a kind of magical realism, never fully explained, left ambiguous and metaphorical. Potentially this is off-putting to an audience unprepared, looking for a more domestic drama, but it feels worthwhile and allows for some breath-taking scenes.
Samuel Lawrence as Charlie is intense, erratic; with new energy at Vic’s return, he rambles confusedly and messily, frustrated at Vic for not understanding and deeply angry that she left him, that she made him like he is. I felt every word that Samuel Lawrence uttered, and I felt wrung out by the end because of his intensity- which is good, which is why I love live theatre so much. Charlie is loud in his pain, and it would be easy for Katharine Davenport to shy away but what she brings is something quieter, stiller in the face of Charlie’s chaos- but there is a fragility underneath her calm exterior, something shakeable. She is together, and then carefully and beautifully unwound in Charlie’s presence.
The set was wonderful, all hanging wires, dim lights, and clutter, and it sat well within the space at Theatre Tropicana. The setting feels like a living thing, and there is an electric hum throughout the piece that intensifies this feeling. I walked into the living space the same way I would someone’s home, a sense of intrusion, voyeurism; sitting the audience level with the actors and surrounding them heightened this and was an excellent choice. If the flat is a metaphor for their toxic relationship, one that Charlie has been unable to move on from and Vic has actively had to stay away from for fear of getting dragged back (such is its magnetic pull), then this could be explored more, could be pushed further with the writing.
It starts intense admittedly, I did wonder where it could possibly go, something I’ve struggled with in other pieces that didn’t have a lot of light and shade. But it does build, and so subtly and brilliantly that I felt like the frog in the pot that doesn’t know it’s being boiled alive. I was breathless, tearful, left stunned at the climax- which is not for the squeamish. This happens so close to the end that you’re not really left with any resolve, left with more questions than answers. I personally liked that, I like things that leave me to stew, but I’m also aware that that’s not for everyone.
Not for the fainthearted, but definitely worth it, Threads is disturbing, unforgiving, and beautiful.