2013 Toronto Fringe Festival: Threads
Tonya Jone Miller spins a magnificent yarn in this fascinating solo show
Written and performed by Tonya Jone Miller
Inside the intimate Solo Room on the second level of the Tarragon Theatre, a wide-eyed young woman stands alone on a stage flanked by two red suitcases. The brief but effective use of music and cultural references transport the audience back to 1968, a time of chaos and war. This is Threads, a one-woman production featuring Tonya Jone Miller as Donna, now playing at Tarragon Theatre as part of this year's Toronto Fringe Festival.
Threads is based on the stories shared with Miller by her mother, Donna, who met and married a Vietnamese man in the late 60s. Donna (whom Miller plays in Threads), bravely left her home in rural Indiana and headed for war-torn Vietnam to teach English at the Buddhist University of Saigon. On Donna's first night in Vietnam, after drawing her mosquito net closed around her bed, she is woken up surrounded by soldiers with guns. Miller simply looks at the audience and says with a flourish, “Welcome to Vietnam!” It is Miller's matter-of-fact, spirited attitude that makes Threads such a joy to witness.
As she recounts her first days in the classroom, as well as her previous experiences back in the United States after graduating high school and meeting her boyfriend, the audience can empathize with her youthful uncertainty, frustration and wonder. One particular highlight of the production is Miller's timeline of her relationship with her boyfriend, Mitchell, which she outlines as she walks back and forth, exasperated, one red suitcase in each hand, to Booker T. and the M.G.'s “Green Onions."
The real magic of Threads takes place in the final 20 minutes of the production, in which Miller's raw talent and energy really shine. She is a highly versatile actress with the rare ability to convey a wide spectrum of emotion in a short time, and is able to command the attention of an audience with this powerful one-woman show.
A Chinese proverb states that an invisible red thread connects those destined to meet. Threads is a production that connects its narrator, Miller, to the audience through her gifted storytelling. Threads plays until Saturday July 13 at the Tarragon Theatre's Solo Room. Visit fringetoronto.com for showtimes.