BWW Review: THREADS, The Hope Theatre
After breaking up five years prior, Charlie (Samuel Lawrence) writes a melodramatic letter to Vic (Katharine Davenport), confessing how he is dead inside, and how he almost feels as if he were rotting away. Turns out he is in fact a medical mystery: his heart is not pumping any blood and his organs are de facto dead.
Playwright David Lane carries the metaphor of a broken heart throughout Threads in a sometimes confused and messy way (piling up information makes the last part of his work appear rushed). The flat the couple used to live in becomes an accomplice in trying to push the two together again, locking Vic inside and forcing her to face her feelings. This calls upon a supernatural element that isn't fully developed and can at times become redundant.
The play is saved by funny one-liners and strong production. Davenport and Lawrence's performances are raw and intense, and they illustrate the characters' emotions with vulnerability and fervour. Lawrence's zeal in trying to get Davenport's character back matches the crumbling of her faked integrity and carelessness in the light of Charlie's unabashed emotional blackmail.
Director Pamela Shermann and designer Jo Jones cleverly scatter the scene around The Hope Theatre's space, putting the audience quite literally onto the stage. The clutter of Charlie's apartment, with its open-air electrical wires, discarded tools and books visually relates to the characters' messy lives.
Charlie's scruffy look contrasts with Vic's thought-out outfit, but both fit perfectly yet differently in the untidy set. Rachel Sampley's lighting design is essential too, giving the audience an immediate tool when it comes to picturing Charlie and Vic's internal responses.
However, in exploring long-lost domesticity, emotional blackmail, breakdowns, and unexplained and unexplored elements of the supernatural, the play tries to be too many things at once.