Thick and Thin Theatre’s latest outing at Theatre N16, following Brains in January, sees politics meeting vampires in a lighthearted, sketch-heavy show.
In our current world where news outlets seem inundated with political news like never before, it seems risky to write a show focused around two political candidates (Frank Maynard and Jonathan Laurence, played by Jack Dent and Tom Spencer, respectively) without audience members feeling as if they’re reliving the last month. Luckily, Suckers holds back on sprinkling in too many references to current affairs (though of course there’s the obligatory ‘strong and stable’ and a Twitter rampage a la Trump). Instead, the politicians are vampires, and have been for centuries, unbeknownst to the general public.
Szerdy and Dent’s sketch-like script takes a few minutes for me to attune myself to, due to a combination of fast-paced delivery and settling in to the world of dark humour and imaginative insults Thick and Thin usually write. The main cast of characters, all vampires, are sarcastic, nasty, and I wonder if there’s a comment trying to be made here about all politicians being the same. Fortunately, the cast don’t really play up to a specific vampire stereotype, which although is refreshing, did make me forget at times that the premise of the show was that the vampires needed to stay in power to protect their secret.
Whilst Beth Graham’s turn as Frank’s advisor Susan (who I wish I’d seen more of, rather than just batting off Frank’s advance) sees her with wide eyes wandering over the audience, Spencer’s character is bumbling, with a funny opening scene concerning an apple turnover. Threatening to out the vampires’ secret is reporter Fiona Ripinsky, played by Stephanie Overington, whose mentions of a ‘bargain’ confused me until it was revealed in the final scene. This left me wondering about the relationship between her and Laurence – did she used to work for him? Are they ex-lovers? I think some more expansion on that would have been a great way of bringing Overington’s well-acted role a bit more centrally into the story and create more conflict.
Smaller (non-Vampire!) roles, played by Katy Whitlock and Aidan Parsons, brought comic fresh air into the mix, with Parsons’ role as ‘Answer Time’ presenter being the moment when arguments finally began to fly between parties and a real sense of tension began to show. Whitlock’s performances in three roles were excellent as she showed her range, with her scene as daytime TV host spot-on.
Suckers is a mixture of dark humour and sketch comedy, poking a bit of fun at politics and the familiar scenarios we know. Having a serious scenario dusted with an absurd twist is becoming a staple of Thick and Thin’s work (I wonder which supernatural being will be used next), and I am intrigued to see what is next for the young company.