Thick is the creation of Rick Bland, a Reduced Shakespeare Company veteran who recently premiered this, his first play, in Edinburgh. Writing, producing and starring in what can only be described as a black comedy, he relays the touching tale of Rudolph, a cerebrally challenged young man whose backward state is a result of his born-again, bigoted, ‘non-alcoholic gin’ supping mother dropping him on his head when he was a baby.
Jumping back and forth to various times in Rudolph’s childhood and adolescence, the play depicts the series of events in the emotional rollercoaster that leads up to Mama’s funeral, revealing the world through Rudolph’s child-like eyes as he interacts with a variety of people.
The acclaim Bland has already enjoyed for this performance comes as no surprise; the character is tenderly created with every facet of his ‘complicated’ nature thoroughly explored. Innocent, lovable and incredibly funny, Rudolph’s emotional depth (real tears!) is staggering. In addition, his capacity for empathy, his inability to dislike or begrudge anybody for anything and his extraordinary talent to spout perfect logic at exactly the right moment are completely believable, making for a truly captivating and imaginative piece of theatre.
The comic timing and equally skilful performances of the rest of the cast ensure there is never a boring moment. Genevieve Adam, Barbara Barnes and Gary Fannin primarily take the roles of Rudolph’s family, but flit seamlessly between these and the smaller parts of more minor characters, working well with Bland to generate an emotive mix of comedy and heart-rending tragedy.
The 90 minutes flew. Coupled with the modern, attractive setting that is the intimate 80-seat New Diorama, this is an evening not to be missed.