Thick and Thin’s debut Brains showed a lot of promise as a satire of privatised healthcare and their new effort, Suckers is very similar except instead of zombies and privatisation we get vampires and politics.
There were issues I was willing to forgive in Brains that I can’t in their second show. The idea once again feels like an extended sketch and I would love to see The Thick and Thin company do a League of Gentlemen-esque show as their strength lies in their ideas and satire rather than full length show. Once you get past vampires=elitism concept there sadly isn’t much there.
Most of the same cast from Brains remain with Jack Dent taking a more leading role as Frank, a vampire and policy man thrown to electorate wolves in a by-election. He is assisted by Cameron Szerdy’s Julian Webster, an Alistair Campbell figure and Beth Graham’s Susan Baker, whose role is to avoid Frank’s sleazy attempts at seduction. Szerdy and Dent also wrote this and sadly their performances weaken an already difficult idea. Szerdy’s Webster is too fast talking and all the characters are very one note. Dent’s performances closely resembles his previous character in Brains.
Actors who were previously great, such as Tom Spencer, are given very little to do. His Lawrence is the rival candidate and it is clear he is based on Theresa May, keeping his head down and hoping everyone around him fails as he tries to take the policies of Katy Whitlock’s UKIP-esque candidate Samantha Paine. Whitlock was probably the highlight in terms of performances, getting to play multiple characters means she is the only one who gets to show any range. The biggest problem is the humour, jokes fall flat, dialogue is either too fast or too monotone (Sophie Nethercott’s assistant is given some good lines but there is no variation in delivery so jokes just don’t work.)
The production only gets interesting when Brains’ lead Aaron Parsons comes on as a Dimbleby (or Dimblebabe as I call him)-like host when the vampires all work together against the electorate to keep control of the blood supply (money, obv) as journalist Fiona (Stephanie Overington), desperate to work with the politicians to become one of them. It is a real shame to see Parsons demoted to a bit part as he was one of the strengths in the last production.
It is a shame this feels so rushed and once again the directors fail to embrace the in round space, acting as if they are performing Proscenium, because it just feels unprofessional, like they have been victims of a dare rather than theatre practitioners. My advice is that with time, and I hope they take that time to develop ideas and improve their performances, they could work but right now it feels like they haven’t improved on their debut show.
Suckers is at Theatr N16, Balham, until 1 July. Details and Tickets can be found here https://www.thickandthintheatre.com/current