Slender Threads (4 stars)

Sensitive portrayal of a woman’s experience of cancer

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This article is from 2011.

Slender Threads

Chickenshed is not a company to shy away from difficult or painful subject matters. Previous shows have dealt with knife crime and the true story of a 19-year-old boy who was killed while fleeing a robbery scene. Here they lay bare a woman’s experience of breast cancer in a candid piece combining theatre and dance, which neither patronises its audience nor victimises its protagonist as it charts the stages of her illness.

Rachel Yates gives a strong and hugely sensitive performance as the woman whose relationships with her husband and daughter fracture and heal as her cancer progresses. A chorus of dancers flows through the domestic scenes, an ever present force hanging over the family, sometimes suffocating, sometimes supporting, at other times mirroring one another like archetypes or frenetically throwing themselves around to nightmarish electro sounds.

Using recordings from interviews with cancer patients, doctors and nurses, Chickenshed shows the support provided by the medical profession while also documenting its unavoidable horrors – the vulnerability of having to appear naked in front of doctors and the fear inside a surgical theatre. Communicating as much information as it does emotion, this is a piece with true integrity from a company with true compassion.

Zoo Roxy, 662 6892, until 28 Aug (not 17, 24), 5.15pm, £9–£10 (£7–£8).

Slender Threads - Trailer

This article is from 2011.

Slender Threads

  • 4 stars

Slender Threads is a new dance theatre production from Chickenshed exploring the effects of a cancer diagnosis on a family. This bold, stylish and engaging production comprising audio of real-life interviews, an original soundtrack and innovative multimedia offers a transformative and life-affirming perspective on a…

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1. Helena Lane18 Aug 2011, 12:25pm Report

Am I allowed to give a show 5 Stars for being breathtaking? I'm not a professional reviewer but this show made me want to write about it.

Chickenshed’s Slender Threads blows away the cliché that life stops because of a cancer diagnoses; indeed life goes on in a more intense and honest way because everyone involved is suddenly aware of how precious life and relationships are.

This new Chickenshed production matures the audience through being so bravely honest - and dare I say it, with moments of wicked humour. It makes us realise that the reality of life is that there are some painful, dreadful and crushing periods – but that is part of life and can sometimes encourage us to live now, for the moment, and appreciate existence much more. As a result Slender Threads is inspiring, invigorating and informative.

The physical effects of cancer are also shown - what the signs are, what is the procedure once you are diagnosed and how the NHS is there for you 24/7 (the care, the nursing, the almost mechanical procedures you have to undergo in order for the medical professional to help as much as possible). This dance-drama is occasionally funny and sometimes shocking – but through each of those polar opposite emotions you learn something about cancer even if you have no understanding or experience of it before, you also learn something about life.

The use of multi-media, sensitive dancing (reflecting the turmoil going on in each character’s mind) and real-life interviews make this an intriguing and engaging production that really educates whilst leaving you feeling you can always cope.

Slender Threads will change the way you look at life. This performance will give you strength. A must-see of this year’s festival. People are rightly saying that Slender Threads is the best performance at the 2011 Edinburgh. Go and see it. 5 Stars as I mentioned!

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