Camden Fringe 2019: Threshold at Hen & Chickens Theatre
Running at the cosy Hen & Chickens Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe, an alternative and experimental theatre festival, Threshold is a raw, minimalistic take on toxic friendships and the passage of time. Written by Miranda Langley and directed by Annys Whyatt, this two-woman play is phenomenally done.
The show follows Alice, played by Leanne Shorley, and Belinda, portrayed by Langley, as they navigate the gradual disintegration of their once-close friendship. The effect of time upon their relationship is explored imaginatively, as the plot proceeds in reverse-order.
While this counter-progression can be convoluted at times, it must be said that the deterioration of a once-close friendship is much more painful to see as it unfolds backwards like a slowed-down flashback. The hopeful attempts to salvage a once beautiful friendship, with all the desperate messages, awkward silences, and broken promises, are poignant and raw.
The acting is spot-on, with brilliant and convincing performances from both Shorley and Langley, in humour and heartbreak alike. Though there are only two characters, the personalities and stories of the referenced background “characters,” such as that of Belinda’s vile and unfaithful husband, are well-developed. The script does rely heavily upon audience interpretation, with most of the plot merely implied, which forces one to pay close attention. The minimalistic approach to the storyline can be confusing, but it does highlight the importance of all the tense moments; if viewed independently, each scene would appear insignificant, but when put together, the salience of every moment is illuminated. Even the props and costumes are simple; it’s impressive that the play is so gripping without relying upon special effects or dramatic scenery.
The dialogue generally flows naturally, but because so much is left unuttered, it can be hard to follow the story at times. While the show may be slow-paced, by the end, every person in the theatre is leaning forward in their chair to see the unravelling of what has become a toxic friendship.
Ultimately, rather than glorifying love, the play delicately exposes the ugly and unglamorous side of rusted relationships, as well as the importance of letting go of the past. The sadness of the play is not in any one tragic event or happenstance; rather, the slow and brutal process of losing a friend leaves one with a quiet, dull pain. The beauty is in the honesty of this brilliant and creative production.
Threshold is at Hen & Chickens Theatre from 18th until 21st August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
For further information about Camden Fringe 2019 visit the festival website here.