Hope Theatre, London – until 29 April 2017
“This isn’t Groundhog Day…”
We talk about broken hearts at the end of relationships oh so easily, but what if it was actually true, what if a break-up manifested physically on the person left behind? That’s one of the key questions that David Lane’s Threads poses in its exploration of the aftermath of a decoupling. It’s been five years since Vic left Charlie – she’s moved on, apparently onwards and upwards, but he remains in their old flat, in stasis and now calling out for help.
Against her better judgement, Vic responds to the plea by returning to their old flat where she’s unnerved by what she finds. Not just in the overt physical decline of her ex-lover whose heart has somehow stopped pumping blood, but also in an apartment that literally doesn’t want to let her go, shifting around her, locking her in. It’s an unexpected twist in what looks to be a conventional relationship drama, complete with squabbles over cups of tea, making it a real curiosity.
Lane and director Pamela Schermann have fun with the Philip Ridley-esque quirks – Rachel Sampley’s flickering lighting and James Scrivens’ juddering sound play up the disconcerting moments but ultimately you wish they had been a little bolder. Not necessarily to explain the supernatural but just to feature it more. As it is, the focus shifts onto the complex emotional lives of Vic and Charlie and the more human impulses behind their behaviour.
These are given a raw power by full-throttle performances from Katharine Davenport and Samuel Lawrence, hinting at the world they used to share but mainly emphasising the huge chasm that exists between them now. And as emotional blackmail comes into play and the mother of all twists hits towards the end, the intensity rarely lets up. This might mean there’s less room for our emotional investment to engage as the plot tumbles through its late revelations, but is also means it is a short and sharp shock of a play.