Earlier in the decade, stand-up and activist Mark Thomas performed a show called Walking the Wall – a tale of his “extreme rambling” excursion along the West Bank’s barrier. In his latest tour, Showtime From the Frontline, he recounted his return to the region for a very different type of visit.
Wonderfully aided by Alaa Shehada and Faisal Abualheja, the show detailed his time spent teaching a comedy workshop at the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp – his co-performers were among the students, and their clowning and acting skills were brought to the forefront here, essaying the different characters among the student cohort and illustrating their experiences. Continue reading “Review: Mark Thomas @ MAC, 28th February 2018”
Mark Thomas returns to Birmingham’s MAC in February with a new show about his experiences in Palestine. Setting out to run a comedy club in a refugee camp in the city of Jenin for two nights, Showtime From the Frontline will trace what happened when he tried to do so.
This isn’t the first time the celebrated stand-up and activist has performed a show about a trip to the region, with 2011’s Extreme Rambling – Walking the Wall detailing his own story of visiting the West Bank. This time around he’s joined by Faisal Abualheja and Alaa Shehada, two actors and aspiring stand-ups from Jenin, and you can expect a funny and fascinating evening in the company of one of the UK’s finest storytellers and performers.
In recent years, stand-up and activist Mark Thomas has tended to flit between overtly political shows and more personal, theatrical flourishes, such as the deeply touching Bravo Figaro and the highly acclaimed Cuckooed. His latest effort in this sphere, The Red Shed, was perhaps the closest he’s come to merging the two strands of his recent output, being a personal voyage in political protest and recollection of the miners’ strike.
The titular shed, a Labour club based in Wakefield, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and this show was Thomas’ tribute to its influence and staying power throughout turbulent times. In truth, though, it was as much a reflection of the inner workings of the Red Shed as an investigation into Thomas’ own memories, notably of children in a school playground singing a workers’ anthem, and of whether his memory is accurate or a romanticised version of events. Continue reading “Review: Mark Thomas @ Warwick Arts Centre, 14th February 2017”
Stand-up veteran Mark Thomas returns to the Midlands with his latest tour, the third part in a trilogy of theatrical shows, called The Red Shed, which sees him celebrating the 50th birthday of a Wakefield labour club – the site of his first ever gig.
Following on from Bravo Figaro and Cuckooed, this is another show which looks more closely at his own history and life than the politicised output he’s best known for. Both of those shows were fantastic pieces of work, so it’s no shock that The Red Shed continues in a similar vein by receiving excellent reviews during its Edinburgh Fringe run in the summer.
After a couple of decidedly personal forays into storytelling for recent shows, the latest outing from Mark Thomas saw him return to the politicised output he’s most widely known for. Trespass, in a similar vein to his well-received 100 Minor Acts of Dissent, found Thomas in typically agitated form, perfectly equipped for performing political comedy against the backdrop of a Conservative government.
The show threw a spotlight on the topic of reclaiming land for public use, flying in the face of draconian laws introduced by local authorities and exposing injustices which, he suggested, needed to be challenged. What followed was tales of defying those authorities, making the stuff of nightmares for security guards. Continue reading “Review: Mark Thomas @ Warwick Arts Centre, 17th March 2016”
If politicised stand-up and comic activism are what you like, you’ll be glad to know Mark Thomas is returning to Coventry later this month with this current show, Trespass. In a similar vein to his previous offering 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, Thomas brings his melange of comedy, journalism and “rabble rousing” (so say the Metropolitan Police) to Warwick Arts Centre on Friday 18th March.
Having also dabbled in theatrical and storytelling works in recent years, Trespass sees Thomas return to fertile ground – campaigning to give ordinary people a voice, and sticking it to the establishment. A veteran of stage, TV and radio, the stand-up’s credentials are well-known and this is sure to be an evening of investigative journalism and revolutionary mirth.