Review: Dick

Strong thematic potential lacking in focus and finesse

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 14 Aug 2022
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Fest magazine

Like it or not, there's an importance and warmth to this tale which bears a recap. In 2018, a lump on comedian Richard Stamp's penis turned out to be cancerous, meaning he had to have a penectomy. In other words, he had his cock cut off. Though there's plenty of this which is played for laughs (one highlight is a mock advert for "Ignor-It Cream", sending up men's inexplicable inability to seek professional help, even when their penis is producing "body custard"), there's a serious and tender set of avenues opened up here.

One hospital bedfellow cruelly asks Stamp (who performs in his autobiographical show): "What's it like to not have your manhood – to not be a man anymore?". But there's light on the horizon: bringing us up to date, Stamp reports that he's booked in for penis reconstruction surgery in "Cocktober", a journey he is taking alongside a trans man and an injured veteran. What an affirming, positive, open view of masculinity this has the potential to be.

Problem is, much of this must be extracted by force rather than being freely given in production which lacks focus and finesse. Stamp, though an experienced and charming performer, is fairly ropey at delivering a script. In conversational moments he shines a little more, but as theatre this feels consistently slapdash. Perhaps as a result, there's an over-reliance in this production on projected media. An attempt to heighten the drama with projection and acting at the same time is neither stylish nor particularly comprehensible. Those potentially rich avenues around what it means to be a man are smothered by exposition. A ‘funeral’ for his appendage doesn’t really serve the dramatic purpose it intends, providing closure on a story which has its interesting paths under-explored. Still, check your dick.