Thomas at the VAULT Festival is a gently lovely little thing which quietly does more to represent neurodiverse voices than you could ever imagine
“I didn’t think you did hugs”
Robbie Curran’s debut play Thomas is a gently lovely little thing which quietly does more to represent neurodiverse voices than you could ever imagine. Thomas and David are cousins, Thomas has Asperger’s but even if David doesn’t, he’s not immune to the pressures that can overwhelm young men in contemporary society. Curran takes us through their journey into those men and the ways in which their condition(s) shape it, or otherwise as the case may be.
Curran plays Thomas and he shares an extraordinary chemistry with Ben Lydon’s David, brothers by any other name as childhood games turn into teenage rebellions and then altogether more adult pleasures. As with the under-rated Jellyfish, there’s such mileage in showing the fullness of neurodiverse lives and Thomas‘ standout scene comes with David’s disbelief at his cousin’s particular success at a house party. Throw in a cracking scene of getting stoned and another in which he tries to parse the orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally, and Curran’s talents as a writer are clear to see.
At the same time, there are the odd moments where a little work might be usefully employed. The breaking of the fourth wall in the first scene is a brilliant disruption but it is one which isn’t really exploited to its full potential as the play progresses. And there’s a little too much scene change shenanigans at the expense of delineating when we are in the fractured narrative, an issue when time is at a premium in an hour-long show.
But Lucy Foster’s production has much to commend it too, not least a standout supporting performance from Amanda Shodeko as pretty much every person the boys meet – she shines in every quirky characterisation. And creatively, Esteniah Williams’ design has a striking look to it and Holly Ellis’ lighting work is exceptional in capturing the ever-shifting moods of the play.