I Am Thomas at Liverpool Playhouse is a production billed as a "brutal comedy with songs."

Yes, it does what it says on the striking posters.

It is a tale inspired by fact, fantasy and an original short story by James Roberston.

The company, Told By An Idiot, has a solid reputation for being left to their own devices in storytelling.

Wirral Globe:

Hannah McPake, Dominic Marsh, Amanda Hadingue, Charlie Folorunsho, Myra McFadyen, John Cobb and Iain Johnstone in 'I Am Thomas'. Picture: Manuel Harlan

This collaborative piece is a devilishly-clever devised, dark musical with flashes of black humour and historical insight.

The eight-strong cast work hard (as do the audience) in keeping up with the narrative and visual and oral flights of fancy.

Wirral Globe:

Domininc Marsh in 'I Am Thomas'. Picture: Manuel Harlan

The play concerns Thomas Aikenhead.

Who he?


All is explained.

In 1697 he was found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death.

I swear it's true.

The student from Edinburgh was a self-confessed truth seeker.

The last person to be executed for blasphemy in Britain.

So how do you turn this strange story into a piece of storytelling?

Artistic director Paul Hunter wanted a contemporary feel.

That explains why costumes consist of frock coats and jeans .... and t-shirts bearing the play's tiitle.

Wirral Globe:

John Cobb, Charlie Folorunsho, Amanda Hadingue, Dominic Marsh and Myra McFadyen in 'I Am Thomas'. Picture: Manuel Harlan.

It certainly nods to the tragedy we all saw on our TV screens and media when the Paris killings shocked the world.

Je Suis Charlie still resonates.with those coming to terms with the multi-layered complexity of religious intolerance.

Perfiorming musical director Iain Johnstone is pitch-perfect like the rest of the all-singing, cast members.

Hannah McPake is seriously versatile.

There is a sort of soccer sub-plot where the events of 17th century Scotland are related in 1970s Match of the Day pundit commentary.

A hit-and-miss idea that needs extra-time on its own execution.

A surreal nativity scène and a touching finale illustrate that this company are passionate about re-telling the life of young Thomas who made a clerical error.

Or did he?

Poet Simon Armitage provides the lyrics and they sweep you away with their poignancy and, yes, humour.

Designer Laura Hopkins has some theatrical tricks up her sleeve.

There are real flashes of brilliance here in 2016 in a musical in memory of Thomas .... God bless him.

Oops. Is that blasphemy?

Four stars

Intriguing, curious and thought-provoking.

The show is at the Playhouse until Saturday. Tickets from the box office on 0151 709 4776.