A combination of storytelling and film sequences, Dick shares Richard Stamp’s personal experiences of diagnosis, treatment and survival. A self-proclaimed tragi-comedy, the production is an informative and honest confrontation about how manhood is defined.
Frank, unabashed and direct, Stamp chronicles his real-life ordeal when, in 2018, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of penile cancer. After waiting three months to get a medical opinion (which he wryly observes is the average before men seek treatment) he is given the shock pronouncement in a harrowingly blunt manner while working in Australia. Returning to the UK for a second opinion, the prognosis is slightly less bleak, but the road ahead is, and continues to be, incredibly difficult.
Performed by Stamp, who also wrote the piece with James Chaplin, Dick is a worthy piece of work, but sadly does not deliver all that is hoped for. Despite the personal nature of the story, Stamp seems somewhat uncomfortable and often searching for his lines. Perhaps this is a stylistic choice, or the fact that is so close to the bone, but that discomfort is transmitted to the audience and it is therefore hard to fully engage.
The filmic sequences are slick, funny and educational – pseudo infomercials alongside real footage of Stamp’s journey across the world and through the medical morass. It is unfortunate that the audio from the VT sometimes drowns out information that is being shared on stage, but they certainly lift the production, and the soundtrack to the show is dynamite.
The spotlight on masculinity and mental health is a vital one, as Dick links Stamp’s unique experience to other areas of toxic masculinity. It is touching to find out about the support he has received throughout his crucible, particularly from the trans community, who have a particular understanding when it comes to the reality of penile reconstructive surgery. Raising awareness of this rare condition, and for the charity Orchid Male Cancer, the concept and story behind Dick is an important one, if not deftly told.
By Deborah Klayman
Dick plays at Greenside@Infirmary Street, Edinburgh until 27th August 2022 (not 21st).