Life in a nutshell

Sep 24 2013 | By More

Beetle Drive back out on tour in award-winning Thread

 Stephen Docherty (William), Nicola Jo Cully (Joan) and Gowan Calder (Izzy) in Nutshell's Thread. Photo © Eamonn McGoldrick

Stephen Docherty, Nicola Jo Cully and Gowan Calder in Nutshell’s Thread. Photo © Eamonn McGoldrick

By Thom Dibdin

The Nutshell theatre company think big, there’s no doubt about it. One hundred performances of their hit Allotment last year is evidence enough – the site specific piece is performed in a specifically grown allotment each venue.

But true to the Edinburgh-based company’s name, they focus on the intimate. Thread, playwright Jules Horne’s follow up, is set at beetle drive in stifling 1950s Scottish seaside community of Burntisland. A site-specific beetle drive – with the audience taking part and right up close to the performers.

That intimacy lead the reviewer for the Stage to nominate Mary Gapinski and Claire Dargo, who play childhood friends Izzy and Joan, for the newspaper’s awards for acting excellence at the fringe in 2012. While the Scotsman awarded it a Fringe First.

Now director Kate Nelson, who founded the company in 2000, is taking Thread out on the road again. With a new cast of Gowan Calder and Nicola Jo Cully joining original cast member Stephen Docherty in the role of William, who makes up the intricate trio of friends whose lives are stitched together through their love of sewing, dancing and each other.

“Working on the show again for the new tour was amazing,” Kate Nelson told All Edinburgh Theatre. “Rehearsing Stephen Docherty was just as much of a joy as it was the last time. He is an incredible actor, intelligent, detailed and very generous.

“I think the joy of rehearsing Thread is that the show is so intimate that you need actors who totally lose themselves in what they are doing to the point where you so no joins or gaps. Gowan & Nicola Jo both have that quality.

A dog wearing a jumper
Nicola Jo Cully (Joan) and  Gowan Calder (Izzy) in Nutshell's Thread. Photo © Eamonn McGoldrick

Nicola Jo Cully (Joan) and Gowan Calder (Izzy) in Nutshell’s Thread. Photo © Eamonn McGoldrick

“The fact that they are also very well practised in working on Jules’ writing – having performed Allotment over 100 times last year – means that they have an incredible ease with one another and with the very beautiful and elliptical way in which Jules writes.”

Thread follows Allotment as the second show in Nutshell’s Still Points Of The Turning World trilogy – to be completed in 2014 – which look at the dramas of everyday life. Any struggle with complex and difficult emotions or experiences doesn’t leave simple legacies, it shapes our view of the world – and more often grows compassion than bitterness.

Thread’s bittersweet story was inspired by an ancient – but intact – sewing box crammed with threads, buttons and vintage haberdashery which Nelson came across in a junk shop on Leith Walk.

It seems quite right that the darkly funny play – which explores friendship, the choices we make and who we become when our memories start to fade – should now be touring as part of Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival.

The new tour has also been an opportunity for the company to look at the show again, as Nelson told All Edinburgh Theatre.

“We have made a few changes to the show,” she said. “Jules had the chance to make some changes to bits of the script she wasn’t keen on last time. I think the end of the show in the original production was a bit abrupt and we’ve sorted that this time round.

“We’ve also added a bit more humour (including a dog wearing a jumper) and have had a lot of fun choosing new beetle drive prizes!”

Thread plays the Brunton Theatre tomorrow, Wednesday night and carries on tour through October.

Thread Autumn Tour 2013

Weds 25 Sept Musselburgh
Brunton Theatre
0131 665 2240 Book online
Sat 28 Sept Wigtown
Wigtown Book Festival
01988 403 222 Book online
Tues 8 Oct New Pitsligo
New Pitsligo Hall
Book online
Fri 11 Oct by Edzell
Stracathro Hall
Book online
Sat 12 Oct Crathes
Crathes Hall
Book online
Thurs 17 Oct Birnam
Birnam Arts Centre
01350 727 674 Book online
Fri 18 Oct Paisley
Paisley Arts Centre
0300 3001 210 Book online
Sat 19 Oct Isle of Arran
Corrie Hall
1770302670 Book online


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