‘’the man called Thomas Aikenhead, Who the f**k is that?’’ sings the ensemble to one of the many songs in this comedic tragedy musical. From the mind of James Robertson and with poetry-like lyrics by Simon Armitage, I Am Thomas is an energetic, fast paced comedy that follows in the same vein as Monty Python and Horrible Histories to tell the life of Thomas Aikenhead, who in 1697 was hanged for speaking against the church and would become the last man to be executed for blasphemy in Britain.

The first act of the performance is a rude but welcoming introduction to our Brechtian cast and the productions playful humour. Opening with a sweet folkish ballad, sung with feeling and emotion by Myra McFadyen and John Pfumojena. We then jump to modern day Scotland, where a group of committee members are trying to figure out which icon they should use to represent their city and be made into a statue. From one member suggesting Dolly the cloned sheep to another saying Archie Gemmall. Once they see the name, Thomas Aikenhead, they try to figure out who he is, leading into a hilarious, tongue in cheek chorus number. The stage changes and we go back in time and are introduced to our troubled hero and see the world through his eyes. An atheist who wants to share his thoughts and beliefs whilst living in a strict religious time where the single mention of blasphemy can lead to uncomfortable methods of repentance or death. Setting Thomas’s story in a contemporary era like the 70’s, a time where new music and other expressional styles were seen as impure by authoritive figures, and gives the tale a fresh perspective that the audience immediately connected with.

The second act, although feeling lighter and a bit out of focus compared to the first act, still carries that emotional weight as you feel sorry for the unfairly trialled Thomas as the ruthlessness John Stewart pushes for Thomas’s execution. The play ends with a powerful song called, Keep Right On and the stage is filled with majestic confetti as the song slowly fades into silence.

Paul Hunter’s direction keeps the pace and momentum of the piece alive with its quick and effective scene changes as well as translating Robertson’s humour perfectly through the cast and his directional choices. Particularly in one scene where Thomas’s apartment is broken into by two shadowy figures and their movements are described perfectly to the beats in John Cobb’s Jacque Cousteau like narration about sharks.

A third wonder about I Am Thomas is the orchestrated music numbers. The cast are given the chance to show their musical talents as well as bring aviation and humour into Armitage’s vibrant lyrics. From Rhapsody of Nonsense, a Bowie/Queen styled anthem to the satirically brilliant God of Love. The combination of music genres really brings the musical numbers to life and a smile on my face.

I Am Thomas is an enjoyable production with a fantastic ensemble who bring this brutal comedy to life as well as an enjoyable production and direction. So if you enjoy two football commentators describing a man’s religious punishment, then I Am Thomas might be the play for you.

Reviewer: Luke Richards

Reviewed: 1st March 2016