General Secretary by Thick ‘n’ Fast is part of Soho Rising, a platform to champion and uncover emerging talent in the industry. It chronicles the weird and wonderful machinations of two individuals who find themselves appointed to be the global General Secretary and is an amusing look at what could happen if the unqualified were tasked with taking over the world. Originally livestreamed during lockdown in April 2021, the production, created by Cassie Symes and Georgina Thomas in association with Applecart Arts, has been adapted and redeveloped for the stage.
It’s understandable why Thomas and Symes aka Thick ‘n’ Fast were named one of the ‘Best Duos at the Fringe’ by the Scotsman. Their chemistry works brilliantly on stage, reminiscent of the 80’s/early 90’s, French and Saunders-style performance. They have a quirkiness reminiscent of The Day Today, Spaced and Smack the Pony, with a constant outpouring of witty innuendos and physical comedy. Thomas’ performance in particular flowed with effortless comic timing, which was a joy to watch, and it was clear that the audience were deeply entertained by the pair. However, the similarities between General Secretary and the aforementioned comedy classics are only superficial, as the play itself lacks the substance to be a fully-formed, powerfully satirical piece.
Symes and Thomas play multiple characters to depict this tale. Rather than a ‘story’ it then feels as though it’s made up of lots of sketches stitched together. While purposefully bizarre, the plot lacks cohesion, depth and high stakes with scenes that aren’t always congruent to the play overall. The somewhat confusing lead up to the finale results in a disappointing, bathos-saturated climax, rendering the actual intention behind the whole play unclear. And though the audience found it very funny, one was left wishing for more intelligence behind the humour to make it a truly profound reflection on politics today, rather than simply a ‘funny’ show. Understandably, people go to a show like this to escape the sharp edge of reality but the two (reality and comedy) can be married together in a balanced and nuanced way. This production has great capacity to do that, unfortunately it misses the mark and is not quite there yet.
Nonetheless, General Secretary has great promise. With more development it has the potential to be an intelligent, hilarious and thought provoking play.
Written and directed by: Thick ‘n’ Fast
Created in association with: Applecart Arts
General Secretary played for one night only at Soho Theatre. For more information and future dates, check Thick ‘n’ Fast’s website via the below link.