Some familiar talents are making their way back to Liverpool in a quite extraordinary-sounding new world premiere.
I Am Thomas, “a brutal comedy with songs” combines talents from recent productions including Odyssey Missing Presumed Dead, Dead Dog in a Suitcase, and cult theatre company Told by an Idiot.
With music by Iain Johnstone and lyrics by poet Simon Armitage, the play tells the true story of Thomas Aikenhead, a Scottish student who was the last person in Britain to be executed for blasphemy.
The ensemble cast includes Dominic Marsh who was last seen as Macheath in Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) at the Everyman in 2014 and 2015, and also includes John Cobb, Amanda Hadingue, Myra McFayden, John Pfumojena, Hannah McPake, Charlie Folorunsho and Iain Johnstone.
I Am Thomas has been created by Told by an Idiot (who last featured on this blog with their 2011 Are You Being Served-but-in-German-influenced theatrical oddity And the Horse You Rode in On), National Theatre of Scotland and Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, in association with the Everyman and Playhouse. After Liverpool, it will head off on a UK tour that includes London’s Wilton Music Hall.
I Am Thomas glimpses into Edinburgh’s dark past to bring out the black humour in the true story of Thomas Aikenhead. Resonating across time and cultures, this “riotous and unsettling comic drama” shifts between 1696 and present times to explore notions of freedom of speech.
With a live score performed by a cast of eight, the show weaves together eclectic references from the Last Passion of Christ to Archie Gemmell’s goal for Scotland at the 1974 World Cup. I Am Thomas – a brutal comedy with songs is inspired by fact, fantasy and an original short story by James Robertson.
Paul Hunter, artistic director of Told by an Idiot and director of I Am Thomas said: “This is a highly pertinent piece, examining the notion of freedom of speech in a surprising, provocative and unsettling manner.”
Told by an Idiot’s recent productions include The Ghost Train (Royal Exchange), Never Try This At Home (Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Soho Theatre), Get Happy (Barbican Centre) and Too Clever By Half (Royal Exchange).
Simon Armitage is one of UK’s foremost poets, playwrights and novelists. His production of The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead opened at the Everyman in October 2015 and last year he was appointed Oxford Professor of Poetry. His other work for the stage includes The Last Days of Troy (Royal Exchange, Shakespeare’s Globe), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Shakespeare’s Globe) and The Death of King Arthur (Shakespeare’s Globe).
Catch I Am Thomas at the Playhouse from February 19 to 27.