ChickenShed is a theatre company that doesn’t do things by halves. When it commits to a project or a show it presents with such energy and certainty that you know you’re going to get the quality for the price of your ticket. With Slender Threads, ChickenShed explores the uncertainty and challenges people undergo when they are diagnosed with cancer. It is by no means an easy undertaking, but Slender Threads presents the subject matter through a visual cacophony of physical dance and straight dialogue. It is, quite simply, a tender and thought-provoking performance.
David Carey and Christine Niering are the creators of Slender Threads working alongside the inclusive theatre company. The work shifts from narrative-driven scenes to the entrancing dance work that seeks to portray the emotive side of the characters. Of course, finding out you have cancer is by no means an easy thing to try and digest. The emotional journey is just as painful as the physical, as you undergo a series of tests, chemotherapy and the grueling wait to see if the disease has spread.
Slender Threads isn’t just about the one story told within this piece, it is about the universal suffering and conditions that, in this case, women with breast cancer undergo. The performance work is interlaced with audio recordings from interviews, testimonials from women who have undergone treatment and survived cancer. Projections show the words of the interviewees across white screens that transform from walls to clinical machines. The cast dance and climb across the walls, the words illuminate their bodies and print upon them momentarily. Paul Knowles’ lighting design works wonders with the projections, making the performers seemingly merge between movement, projection and light.
Whilst cancer as a focal point for a piece of theatre is an uneasy topic, ChickenShed provides a sensitive story of mother and wife struggling to control the spiraling affects of her chemotherapy. Her emotional struggle with the disease that plagues her body is portrayed with a tenderness, and perfectly captures the internal struggles she faces. Slender Threads is emotive and informative; it offers hope for those who need it most in the difficult journey that cancer takes an individual on.
Slender Threads is at the Zoo Roxy at the Edinburgh Festival until 28th August. For more information see the ChickenShed Theatre website.