tue 17/10/2017

Mark Thomas: 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, Connaught Theatre Ritz Studio, Worthing | reviews, news & interviews

Mark Thomas: 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, Connaught Theatre Ritz Studio, Worthing

Mark Thomas: 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, Connaught Theatre Ritz Studio, Worthing

Thomas, once again, turns subversion into appealing fun

Yep, he's throwing another one - or 100, actually - in the works

Mark Thomas is telling us how he organised a large gay rights comedy gig outside the Russian consulate in Edinburgh (where this show was part of the Fringe), how it was a huge success, how the local police chief affably arranged for the street to be blocked off to traffic, and how the comedian Stephen K Amos raised a huge cheer of support for the cause to which one policeman on duty responded with enthusiastic and heartfelt applause. Such behaviour, Thomas commented, after a suitable pause, had the potential to ruin his livelihood.

That’s the thing with Mark Thomas, he’s defiantly political but he’s also unpredictable, mischievous and not dogmatic. The police, who feature in numerous anecdotes during his new show, 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, are given a very human face. The last time I saw Thomas live, around a decade ago, he was more political than comic; this time, at 50 years old, as he keeps reminding us, he was humanist, easy-going and funnier, without ever losing his trouble-making edge.

It’s more than an edge, actually, it’s a way of life. Thomas is spending the current year engaging in the acts of the show’s title – he’s currently done 32 of them – and consists of stories from his experiences along the way. The ideas he’s playing with, such as cleverly subverting the packaging in book shops and supermarkets – and there are stickers on sale at the gig - recall the agitprop pranksterism of the Situationists and the Yippies, surreal gags that hit home points about a consumer society run rampant.

Alone on stage, clad in black, with a screen behind him which occasionally illustrates a point, the show comes in two hour-long segments with a 20 minute interval. He easily holds the attention throughout. The night is sold out. It’s worth noting that, with Brighton just down the road, he’s chosen to play Worthing, a town that doesn’t often host acts of Thomas’s calibre. “Less yuppies here!” he tells us with a guffaw.

The acts of minor dissent run the gamut from the brilliantly inspired – such as doctoring pornography in a manner not dissimilar to Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell’s notorious library book art-vandalism – to the narcissistically naff, but they all have in common core principles and ideas that Thomas hammers home with cheery wit, occasionally sending himself up as a smug, super-PC dweeb (which he’s not).

With his biting Channel 4 show, The Mark Thomas Comedy Product, over a decade behind him, Thomas is clearly still able to muster armies of support for his ventures, from lawyers to people on the street, and it’s heartening that as well as remaining warm and often hilarious, he’s out there drawing attention to notable facts - such as that the Daily Express, while rabidly attacking the effects of immigrants on the British economy, is itself tax registered off-shore.

I bought some of his subversive stickers in the interval and can only hope that his ideas on ways to appropriate UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s surname also catch on.

Mark Thomas interviewed about 100 Acts of Minor Dissent

He’s defiantly political but he’s also unpredictable, mischievous and not dogmatic

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3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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