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Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Doubting Thomas

Fusion Theatre

Genre: Biography, Drama

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

McCrudden, jailed for a violent crime, reforms, and offers positive suggestions for preventing the young vulnerable from following the same path.


Thomas McCrudden was a violent criminal and jailed.  While in prison he underwent a genuine ‘conversion’ and wrote a successful book in which he expressed valuable positive ideas for preventing young people as he once was from ever treading the path which led him to violence and prison.  Has Society ignored its duty towards the young and vulnerable?

This devised production by Jeremy Weller is truly gripping and the pent-up anger, constantly below the surface, can erupt at a moment’s notice like a match to a can of petrol.   Merely watching the audience is sucked involuntarily into a dangerous world:  it is truly scary.   Anything can happen:   when will self-control be lost and blood spilled?

The production is clear, spare and strong, and the performances all too credible all round.   While some concession could have been made to the intelligibility of the very heavy Scottish brogue, the mimetic and the blocking itself leave no doubts as to the meaning, even if much of the detail is hard to understand.    Intonation and body language however, as in the best Shakespeare productions in the hands of experienced actors, leave the audience in no doubt that they have not missed anything important.   Go and see it!   The human story is persuasive.

The prison population in the UK is one of the highest in Europe:  why?  The philosophy of ” lock’em up and throw away the key”is not worthy if a Country which purports to be civilised – especially when the cause (but not all) of crime can be neglect of the vulnerable in the very early years of life.   Of course public protection is key, but , but failure to tackle the causes of crime can be said to be a crime in itself:  Doubting Thomas highlights Society’s negligence and lack of political Will in this respect.  This docudrama must surely also raise the question in our minds whether our politicians are too often too inexperienced in the ways of the world  to actually produce the Leadership needed to address the multiplicity of complex human problems which only experience of the real world can inform.   The lack of profound empathy – called wisdom – which usually only comes with anno domini ( and not even then in some cases!) results in the knee-jerk decisions our youthfully ambitious MPs frequently make:  a First Class degree from Oxford is a good start, but even waiting for a bus which doesn’t turn up on a snowy night – or struggling to pay the rent for depressing digs – or the loss of self-identity through being unemployed – can be  better routes to wiser law-making, than learning to be a Yes-Man in a nice suit in the Westminster ‘bubble’.

Doubting Thomas is not only a ‘must see’ but is also a ‘must do something about it’