Archimedes (Alexander Wilson) is interested in scopophilia, pleasure derived from looking. He looks at us, an experiment to see how long he can sit before we leave. Mercifully, Phoenix (Emily Johnstone) interrupts and tells him a story about two lovers. Carmella Brown and Michael Jinks play out the peaks and troughs of a passionate relationship whilst watched, narrated and judged by Archimedes and Phoenix – and us.
Rosa Crompton’s production seems to suggest that, in the end, it is the heart that triumphs; that it is satisfying and important to believe in the power of stories.
Threadbare is the second part in Isla van Tricht’s Remnants double bill and is noticeably better and more mature than its predecessor. Van Tricht’s penchant for postdramatic meta-material remains, although this time wedded to an engaging story. It’s a best-of-both-worlds scenario and whilst we aren’t quite moved by the production, it remains compelling and provoking.
Brown and Jinks have wonderful chemistry as the pair of lovers. Van Tricht tells their story non-chronologically: they must flit between wildly different emotional states in an instant and for the most part they pull it off with ease. Wilson plays the logical Archimedes with charisma and Johnstone’s Phoenix is his perfect opposite. She gives an assured, emotional performance that perfectly complements his: heart and head personified, battling it out over the story’s soul. Is it fiction? For whom? Should we believe everything we see or should we question it, including thought itself?
Rosa Crompton’s production seems to suggest that, in the end, it is the heart that triumphs in all of these points, that it is satisfying and important to believe in the power of stories. However, Archimedes’ logical philosophy that fiction is just fiction, forces us to challenge this. We are constantly being reminded by the commentary and by the skipping time frame that we are watching a piece of theatre, yet surely to take it as it comes – as Phoenix perhaps would – would be to miss its hidden beauty? Such postdramatic questions were posed inadequately in The Remnants: As Thyself; in Threadbare, van Tricht realises the best way to engage us in the process is by telling a story that we care about.
Perhaps the tapestry that van Tricht creates here is threadbare: we can never see every angle or consider every interpretation. It is, however, much more fully formed than her previous work, which doesn’t need to be seen for Threadbare to be appreciated and enjoyed.