Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Mark Thomas returns with a stand up show that sets him a year long challenge, that is intelligent, funny, personal and full of mischief.
Mark Thomas is not just a comedian, he’s an activist, a journalist and a 50 year old Dad. All of these elements come together, along with a real intellectual nourishment in his new show 100 Acts Of Minor Dissent.
The title is taken from a self-set challenge to complete the 100 acts within a twelve month period. Should he complete them, the day after he has achieved the goal he will tell the entire tale of the year’s journey, and the documenting proof will be exhibited in a gallery. Should he fail… Well, the penalty Thomas has set himself certainly provides plenty of motivation to succeed.
Explaining his terms – activist, lobbying and subversion – in delightfully familial terms, with examples garnered more from his years as a Dad than decades on the Metropolitan police’s radar, Thomas is an engaging and sympathetic figure – both as ‘one of us’ and inspiring us to want to be more like him. He owns the stage as he fills it with simply a microphone in hand and occasionally illustrating examples with slides projected to the side and behind our captivating host. It’s the inherent sense of mischief, the glint in his smiling eyes and the way he has mastery of and directs his audience with the skill and light touch of a virtuoso conductor on the first night of the Proms. He paints a picture of his Britain that is inclusive, non jingoistic and hard fought to maintain but worthy of the battle, in describing his home London neighbourhood. It’s a deft touch that scolds the country and the establishment for not being the better person Thomas knows it can be.
The story so far on Thomas’ 100 acts includes treats to delight and inspire subversion. He started in May so there’s a good few, with plenty more to come. Conspiratorial, with laughter liberally peppered as he generously shares the joke with us and allows us the chance to join in – should we so desire.
As ever, Thomas’ show is good food for the soul, delivering up warmth, intelligence and inspiration. Back covering the politics of life after his last hugely acclaimed and very personal show focussing on his father, this brings together both aspects of Thomas – his home and his wider work – into a delightful glimpse at the entire man making this seem both hopeful and incredibly open and generous at his willingness to share all with us. A beautiful meeting that elevates this show above many others.
So if you’re not leaving the show reaching for your own way to subvert the order, you clearly haven’t been paying attention. And more fool you. This left me warm and tingling at what could still be done to challenge and create.