Review: Mark Thomas – Trespass

[First published on Quays News 12/05/16]

COMEDIAN and political activist Mark Thomas performed his latest show Trespass at the Lowry theatre this week and had an extra surprise for the audience, as afterwards he took everyone outside to rebel against the recent public order placed on Salford Quays.

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In his latest tour comedian, activist and journalist Thomas yet again reveals his gutsy determination to showing utter disregard to any rule he sees as unjust, unfair or simply stupid. During the show he didn’t just talk about his many stunts but actually performed one, inviting his audience to join him in protest against the council’s decision to impose a public order banning swearing in Salford Quays.

Before the humorous rebellion however, Thomas performs both halves of a tightly packed two hour show. He warns of his foul mouth before starting, then declaring his political stance including his adoration for Jeremy Corbyn. A brutal but hilarious attack on the Prime Minister then follows. Coming out so strong, Thomas revs up the audience early, receiving back to back laughter and setting the tone for the rest of the show.

Thomas goes on to list things he takes issue with, giving the audience a clear picture of his social views that involve love of the city, disregard for big business, hate of the countryside and a scathing view of estate agents. And lo and behold, an estate agent was in the front row, but Thomas was never going to back track, advising the audience member to ‘get a proper job’.

As the interval approached Thomas hinted at the stunt that would later ensue, as well as declaring that he’d had little badges made for every audience member, reading  f*** the swearing ban, again a little protest to the council’s ban on foul language.

The second half featured Thomas proudly brandishing his latest book which was based on his previous tour 100 Acts of Minor Dissent. Prior to his old tour he’d pledged to commit one hundred small acts of rebellion against councils, the government, large corporations, political parties and virtually any unjust authority figure. The examples picked from the book were brought to life by Thomas through a range of voices and impressions. His enthusiasm for activism was evident.

As Thomas walked us through more of his stunts, he made use of a screen behind him, putting up photos of his antics. His protests are simple, but always funny, and bring to light some important issues. Protests against bans on the homeless sleeping rough is an incredibly worthy cause, but then again a ban on writing on the pavement in chalk may not be as much as a social discrepancy. However, rebelling by covering a whole street in the words ‘I must not chalk the pavement’, hilarious.

With his material so unique, Thomas’ stand up is refreshing. His performance really brings his activism to life. At times his delivery is almost poetic as he articulates his anecdotes with a dramatic intensity. There is never energy lacking in the show, with Thomas moving ideas on quickly as he reals off his material at a rapid rate.

The highlight of the show was saved until the end. With the council’s recent ban on use of foul language at Salford Quays, it was the perfect scenario for one of Thomas’ stunts. Before heading outside Thomas reeled off a list of 450 swear words to huge laughter. Then, with the help of the Yorkshire based Commoners Choir, he sang swear words to the tune of Frere Jacques. A large swear box had been built with Thomas calling for donations that would aim to cover the costs of the first person that would be fined. It was a typical act of Mark Thomas rebellion that had everyone in stitches.

The show is an inspirational mix of anecdotes and rants that are always topped with a clever quip. Thomas’ performance is wholehearted and never lacking in effort. Thomas really does recognise that comedy is a two way process with the audience and encourages them to get involved in his stunts. He leaves his audience feeling empowered as well as amused.

4

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