Fringe review: Threads

By John Lyle Belden

Tonya Jone Miller presents “Threads,” the story of her mother, Donna Jean Miller, whose life took her from Indiana to Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s.

Donna married a sailor, which meant traveling, including to Hawaii, where she studied at the University to become a teacher in the Far East. While her marriage collapsed, she found love with a fellow student, a Vietnamese man. This leads to a teaching job in Saigon in 1968.

While the war raged elsewhere, the effects were often felt in the South Vietnamese capital. She deals with teaching while shells crash outside the building, and helping care for orphans who have little hope of survival. Years after her return to the States, with the fall of Saigon imminent, she goes back to make a desperate attempt to go help her boyfriend’s family, in spite of being nine months pregnant (with Tonya).

Miller tells of the threads, figurative and literal, that bind people and lives together, and how we affect one another. We get a fascinating look into a war-torn city, and through Donna’s brother, a glimpse of how war changes those who fight it. The story is non-linear, but easy to follow, as we trace the threads of time back and forth across two decades. Every tale is well told, fascinating and revelatory. We feel through Miller the love for her mother and what she went through and gratitude for the little events that led up to her own creation.

“Threads” unspools at the IndyFringe Basile Theatre.

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