In their latest production Bare Threads, Theatre Paradok explore how clothing can act as an emblem of power or passion, of love or loss. With only an eclectic wardrobe and each other at hand, the ensemble of Bare Threads considers the role clothing has in our lives, whilst also recognising the beauty of clothing itself.
Bare Threads opens with fabulous energy, with the entire ensemble pulling out all the stops as they take to the stage for the first time. As David Rose’s aptly named instrumental “The Stripper” plays, the cast waltz around the room, unburdening themselves of their insecurities along with their outfits. Left in nothing but flesh-tone underwear, the spotlight shifts from themselves to the garments strewn across the floor.
In curating a show entirely without dialogue, the cast of Bare Threads are under a lot of pressure to effectively stimulate their audience, translating their message through gesture and expression. While some scenes take longer to understand than others, the cast do a fabulous job in swiftly setting the tone for each choreographed moment.
The production offers a great mixture of playful and profound representations of how our dress can define us, effectively moving between silent, sombre scenes to those filled with joy.
A standout performer is Tiffany Soirat. She moves her body with such grace and affecting facial expressions that she effortlessly conveys the mood of each scene in which she appears. Taking the stage during some of the more heartfelt and private pieces – exploring how garments can signify a blossoming relationship or a lost loved one – Soirat moves with unflinching awareness of her whole body. Her duet with Maddie Haynes is a particular highlight, depicting a young couple. The tender playfulness they convey as they gradually dress one another is charming, and is a great introduction to the more thoughtful portrayals of how we may be defined by our dress.
For the most part, Bare Threads is an impressively synchronised and well-choreographed performance. Trevor Lin’s piece in particular reminds us of the beauty of clothing as an expression of art – his imitations of a bullfighter and a flamenco dancer demonstrates the fluidity of meaning a garment can have. While many of the performers are given the opportunity to shine, the incredible flare and finesse they offer individually is lost when the stage becomes crowded. While there is no denying the opening strip tease and morning commute sketches are amusing, they lack refinement. While the scrambling of the morning routine scene is understandably intentional, expressing the chaotic nature of the morning rush, it feels like an opportunity missed.
Bare Threads also falls victim to the circus-style set design: theatre in the round always leaves someone’s back turned to the audience. This resulted in a number of occasions that elicited roars of laughter from one half of the audience, leaving the rest wondering what they missed.
Nevertheless, this piece of physical theatre is a wonder. 50 minutes did not seem enough, as I found myself wanting to see what else they could come up with. Bare Threads features a very entertaining and talented cast, offering a new outlook on the clothing we put on (and take off) everyday.
theSpace on Niddry Street (Venue 9)
Until 19th August
Photo credit: Andrew Perry