I Am Thomas
by I Am An Idiot, The National Theatre of Scotland, Royal Lyceum Theatre
Edinburgh in association with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse
Directed by Paul Hunter
19th - 27th February 2016
Photograph by Manuel Harlan
This was a mishmash of a production, containing totally unrelated themes
thrown in, almost seemingly at random, to the true essence of the story
The play was supposedly centred around the last person to be executed
in Britain for blasphemy in 1697, 19-year-old medical student Thomas Aikenhead
Bu for some bizarre reason there were far too many references to football,
God knows why!, including a cast member adorned at one time in an Archie
Gemmill Scotland shirt,and several sketches of women pretending to be
pundits on Match Of The Day. How tiresome it all became.
As with the banal dialogue poet Simon Armitage used in The Odyssey: Missing
Presumed Dead staged at the Everyman last year - again in that production
there were a proliferation of allusions to football - his song lyrics
proved little better in I Am Thomas. Methinks he should stick to what
he is professed to be best at, poetry.
He is also a great admirer of the ultra racist magazine, the Charlie
Hebdo publication, which he spoke about in the pre-publicity to this play.
He was originally going to call it 'Je Suis Thomas.'
He pontificated about freedom of speech and its values. Abusing someone
else's religion and cultural beliefs in cartoon form is by any definition
not freedom of speech.
Everyone in the cast played Thomas at one time or another, making the
point that blasphemy is still widespread around the world on many different
levels, sometimes with fatal consequences.
Musical director Iain Johnstone played a nifty piano but the rest of
the musical ensemble (ie the whole cast) left a lot to be desired, sounding
amateurish at certain periods, with one member trying to hit the high
notes when singing, but failing to do so.
The thirty minute second act was an improvement on the meandering 75
minutes opening set. The most notable aspect was the noose of a rope being
looped around every cast member's neck, signifying that we are all capable
of speaking ill of God (Whatever/whoever he, she, it is).
But all in all I am Thomas was an unholy mess.
Comment left by Jimmy S. on 8th March, 2016 at 9:34
"He pontificated about freedom of speech and its values. Abusing someone else's religion and cultural beliefs in cartoon form is by any definition not freedom of speech."
Quite what this section of the review has to do with the play at hand, heaven (pardon the pun) only knows. Stick to reviewing the production please, Colin.
You're right in one respect, though. The play's rubbish.