The Man Who Was Thursday

UK tour

April 2001

The Man Who Was Thursday is a surreal thriller set in London at the turn of the century. Chesterton’s spy fantasy is considered by many to be his masterpiece. The story’s hero, Gabriel Syme, an undercover detective, infiltrates a secret council of revolutionaries, named after the days of the week. The group, led by the terrifying and grotesque ‘Sunday’ is dedicated to the destruction of society. Syme, posing as an anarchist, gets himself voted onto the council as the new ‘Thursday’ and sets out to foil their evil plans and single-handedly save his world. On the perilous journey that follows, we encounter farcical events, a twisting plot and a series of dramatic revelations which crank up the tension as the true identities of the council are revealed one-by-one.

Staged with a cast of four actors making lightning-quick changes in and out of costume and masks, and employing a cartoon-style ‘cut-out’ design of racing cars, balloons, trains and spinning tables, the production moved at break-neck speed, exploring the fear and loathing of terrorism and the way the state creates the illusion of ‘foreign’ conspiracies to keep its population in awe.

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

This is a great little piece of theatre. . .[the] surreal scenario is, in Ben Harrison’s clever production, cunningly played both as tragedy and farce. . . the inventiveness of the evening is beyond doubt. . .90 frenzied minutes during which the audience, like Syme, has every expectation shaken up. This is small-scale theatre to be sure, but it has big ambitions.

Ian Johns, The Times

Harrison’s inventive production also turns it into a frenetic but enjoyable theatre. The story come across like John Buchan rewritten by the Keystone Cops and anticipates John le Carre in the way it constantly casts doubts on whose side people are really on. . .And, having continually subverted Symes’ (and our) expectations, this 90-minute romp manages to leave an aftertaste of surreal perversity that characterises the most vivid nightmares.