Prague Fringe 2016
Thom Jordan delivers what seems like a religious testimony before showing his cards and revealing some surprising details about his performance.
He arrives full of energy, bubbling with enthusiasm, greeting the audience with the same warmth and ebullience one often associates with his native country of Australia. But something about him catches our eye. This young man, Paul (Thom Jordan), is wearing a backpack, from which a nasal cannula runs over his cheeks and into his nose. Over time, this device becomes a fundamental symbol of the story he is telling.
“Thorn” has many twists and turns, but what can be divulged here is this: After a very brief introduction elaborating on his origins in rural Australia to sketch him as an average boy who grew up to be an average horny teenager, Paul reveals that he suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia as a child and that his survival prompted his religious parents to call him their “miracle child”, leading to a lifetime of guilt every time he breaks the laws of God or man. Eventually, he would be inspired to speak about his experiences and bring many to Christ.
But this is far from a testimony. The performance has multiple layers of acting and deception that very slowly reveal themselves before smashing our perceptions to pieces in the final moments. This final twist is preceded by an absolutely majestic portrayal of an “altar call”, a trance-inducing speech that is meant to sweep people to their feet as the speaker elaborates on the power of God and the things that are possible when He is there to carry you on the road to salvation.
This fiery sermon is a very impressive display of the power an eloquent snake-oil salesman has over his subjects, and the result is as riveting as it is frightening, as the rhythm reaches a fever pitch despite the steady stream of tranquil music played to us in the background. It is a peculiar experience being so close to such an event, unable to get away, and one quickly realises that, for those in need of help, the words peddled by this charismatic yet sympathetic wordsmith who suggests that he had gone to hell and back and made it through thanks to the Lord Almighty can be incredibly seductive.
Jordan’s ability to immerse the audience in the material while not repelling the non-believers is mesmerising and ensures this show a rating of highly recommended.