It’s more than 20 years since I first encountered Danny Baker on the airwaves and the experience made an indelible mark. A famed career in front of the TV cameras notwithstanding, it was on the radio where Baker sounded – and felt – most at home, with his hugely popular shows tracing the absurdity of football and everyday life at an almost molecular level. Never had minutiae seemed more vital, or more universal.
In more recent years, Baker’s has turned his enormous skill as a raconteur to books – he’s published three volumes of his autobiography and has hinted on Twitter that there are more to come – and latterly the stage. It’s odd to think that such a masterful storyteller had never graced the boards for a full live tour prior to last year’s Cradle to the Stage outing, but its follow-up Good Time Charlie’s Back has come barely twelve months later. Continue reading “Review: Danny Baker @ Warwick Arts Centre, 5th May 2018”
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”
There’s something particularly magical and evocative about stories set at Christmas. Whether it’s the work of Charles Dickens, the ghost stories of M.R. James, Doctor Who‘s festive outings, or anything in between – the snow, Christmas trees and spirit of giving help to conjure vivid ideas of late December and all the joys (and, in the case of James, fears) that come with it.
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”
It seems surprising that, having been in the world of showbiz for so long, this is Danny Baker‘s first solo stage tour. But then, despite jokingly referring to the theatre as his “first love” in the tour’s promotional material, few people have perhaps been more synonymous with radio in the past 30 years than Baker himself.
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.
Mark Steel returns to the West Midlands as part of a long UK tour, with his latest show – perhaps his most personal to date. The stalwart of the UK comedy circuit, and Radio 4 favourite, is back with Who Do I Think I Am?, which sees Steel tracing his own life and finding out about his birth mother’s life too.
In recent years Steel’s shows have been geared towards his …In Town format, which sees him doing material about the area where he’s performing, and he’s recorded several series for BBC Radio 4 in addition to regular tours. But this latest outing finds him tackling subjects much closer to home.