Jeremy Weller, known for his use of drama as a tool for social intervention, presents a new Fringe offering with a powerful actor and message at its core, but a weak execution that does not do the story justice.
McCrudden’s performance is captivating but the play as a whole lacks lustre, polish and potency.
Jumping between past and present versions of Thomas McCrudden, a man with a dark and violent history, Doubting Thomas is a tale of redemption. This true and very personal story is paired with a scathing social commentary about the pressures of masculinity and what happens when society ignores the ‘lost boys’ who most need its support: “when you’re born into poverty, you don’t stand a chance.”
Unfortunately a clunky, meta-theatrical opening, rambling script and convoluted structure hinder the power of this message. The play takes too long to get going and jumps clumsily between different moments in time, inhibiting Thomas’s character development. There are moments of comedic gold punctuating the play which provide welcome light relief without detracting from the seriousness of the narrative, however, this is let down by unconvincing performances from the supporting cast, clunky scene changes and a disjointed narrative.
McCrudden is magnetic as the tortured eponymous character, displaying strong comic timing and deadpan wit alongside a disarming vulnerability. He is at his best during his long soliloquies. The most memorable moment of the show is his description of the point when his conscience was born, allowing to discern the fear and suffering in the eyes of those around him. His sincerity is forceful and startling.
McCrudden’s performance is captivating but the play as a whole lacks lustre, polish and potency. However, listening to McCrudden reciting his litany of sins at the end of the play and asking the audience “do you think any less of me now I’ve told you?”, the answer can only be ‘No’.