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Threads

Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre
Four stars


Five women sit on chairs in a row at the start of Sylvia Dow's new meditation on the role knitting has played on Borders life, their faces lit up by the patterns formed from the projections of nineteenth century mill-workers them. When they sing of lifetimes spent in those mills, it is in a harmonious unison gloriously at odds with the disparate yarns that unravel over the next hour in word, song and image.

Developed over the last three years as part of an oral history project dubbed Knit Two Together and presented by the ever fertile Stellar Quines Theatre Company as part of the Luminate festival of creative ageing, Dow's script flits from latter-day knitting circles to poverty-stricken women imprisoned for stealing thread to illustrate a hidden history excavated and presented in this most playfully inventive show and tell.

Muriel Romanes' production transforms all this into a criss-crossing cut-up collage which, with its mix of sketch-like scenes and songs overseen by musical director Robert Pettigrew at the piano at times resembles a 1970s style political cabaret. Not that there is anything remotely roughshod in the well-drilled delivery by performers Joanna Tope, Molly Innes, Paksie Vernon, Pauline Knowles and Annie
Grace.

The shapes they throw as overseen by choreographer Sophie Stephenson are impressionistic little turns given even more atmosphere and depth by Jeanine Byrne's mood-laden lighting.  There are fantastic cacophonies too as the rhythms of the mills explode into life beyond them.  What Dow's construction evokes most of all as it navigates its way around a short Borders tour is the power behind a shared history as the ties that bind are stronger still.

The Herald, November 2nd 2015


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