Image courtesy of Manuel Harlan.
I Am Thomas
Until 9th April
At the ever impressive Lyceum Theatre, this month’s must see show is I Am Thomas. Based on the original short story by James Robertson about the life and death of the last man in Britain to be executed for blasphemy, Thomas Aikenhead, this ‘brutal comedy with songs’ is humorous, inspired and touching, with a twist of 70’s punk rock rebellion.
With the actual event having occurred in 1696 and the play drifting between the late 1600’s, 1970’s, and the present day, there was a risk that the ambiguous time setting of this play would be jarring. Instead, it is executed seamlessly. In fact, there are very few things in this play that are certain. At one point or another, each cast member plays Thomas Aikenhead, regardless of gender or age. This all adds an interesting dynamic to the stage and demonstrates the diversity of the cast members.
Each cast member acted and sang incredibly. The quality of every performance element was something to behold. Although they all shone on stage in one way or another throughout the production, it has to be said that Myra McFadyen was a truly commendable talent amongst this formidable cast.
With a lengthy career on stage, McFadyen’s experience was evident in the execution of her performance. She immediately engaged the audience with her haunting and pitch perfect rendition of the opening number and, moreover, she kept the onlookers laughing throughout. The chemistry between McFayden and Amanda Hadingue was also noticeable, especially during their occasional Match of the Day style commentaries on the preceding action.
Another cast member whose performance stood out was John Pfumojena. Despite having very few lines throughout, Pfumojena demonstrated his talent through his arrestingly stunning vocals. At the end of the opening number, he hypnotised the audience with an African tribal music inspired motif which was echoed later in the show. The tone of his voice and the raw emotion he expressed made his small role a commendable one.
From the very beginning with the ‘breathing’ accordions setting an atmospheric and eerie tone, the show’s music promised to be anything but dull. Iain Johnstone, the onstage musical director and composer really showed off his intriguing musical style in this original score. The music drew inspiration from the revolutionary music of the 70’s and the more traditional music of centuries long past. The music proved to be enchanting, uplifting and comedic throughout.
Alongside its hilarity, I Am Thomas was both visually and audibly beautiful, proving itself to be a continuation of the Lyceum’s tradition for compelling and exciting theatre.