Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Thorn review at Sweet Dukebox, Brighton – ‘powerfully desolate’

Thom Jordan in Thorn at Sweet Dukebox, Brighton Thom Jordan in Thorn at Sweet Dukebox, Brighton
by -

Coming to the Brighton Fringe via Edinburgh and this year’s Sprint Festival at Camden People’s Theatre, Thom Jordan’s one-man play has changed title along the way. And not only is Thorn punchier than Cleansed in the Blood, it’s sharper, more clenched – as is Jordan’s performance.

Drawing on Jordan’s own childhood as a minster’s son in Australia and the real-life scandal of a Pentecostal minister who faked having cancer, this hour-long show explores the journey of ‘miracle child’, Paul, from leukaemia survivor to 25-year-old preacher.

It’s a piece about need – religion not simply as a suppressive force but an addictive one, with faith acting as a dynamo, ceaselessly transforming misery into meaning. The main strength of Jordan’s writing and the restless pace of Julia Patey’s production is to capture the rush of the pulpit spotlight for Paul. We’re not kept at arm’s length here. We’re his congregation.

The play is overstated at times – clumsily energetic. But when it shades into darkness towards the end, Jordan, as Paul, carries it high. His shift from bouncy charisma to bitterness seems to shift the quality of the air in the Sweet Dukebox’s backroom space. Disgustedly yanking off his tie, his sudden fierceness is powerfully desolate.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Powerful one-man show about guilt, need and the addictiveness of faith