Man Who Was Thursday

There are few good things about international terrorism, but this show is one of them. Seamlessly updating the GK Chesterton novel as a twentieth-century jihad satire (though careful not to be too specific), Jam Theatre Collective strike a tone somewhere between Team America and Chris Morris's Four Lions. The Man Who Was Thursday tells the story of Gabriel Syme, a bookish dweeb who objects to every abuse of the Patriot Act but just wants 'to save America'. We follow Syme from a hilarious repetitive encounter with a metal detector through his undercover infiltration of a bio-weapons plot that isn't as watertight as first impressions appear. From this point on, the attempts of the Counter-Terrorism Corps to prevent mass destruction illustrate exactly what might have happened if 24 was written by hand-wringing liberals instead of right-wing nut-jobs. Hilarious incompetence and idiocy abounds – my personal favourite example of the script's sense of humour being when a plot to attack the Statue of Liberty with a bio-agent is refuted in three words: 'it's a statue.' You can't argue with that. The seven-person cast and the minimal stage furniture both show a wonderful adaptability, and the script perfectly captures the ludicrous culture of fear, prejudice and colour-coded paranoia that surrounds the modern terrorist threat. I've got no idea how closely this version sticks to the 1908 original, but I really don't care. It lasts forty-five minutes and you'll laugh nearly every one of them – which doesn't happen every day of the week.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

The Blurb

The International Terrorist Council is plotting. The only man who can stop them: one of their own. Or is he? The Jam's 21st-century riff on Chesterton's detective tale targets the terrorist in all of us.