Live Review: Mark Thomas, Leicester Square Theatre, WC2

Mark Thomas by Steve Ullathorne

This review first appeared in the London Evening Standard here.

Mark Thomas is taking the show on tour. Details here.


Mark Thomas has always been artistically ambitious, devising distinctive pieces that are invariably political, sometimes personal and occasionally both.

His latest work, A Show That Gambles On The Future, is another hybrid, with ad libbing lobbed in for good measure.

At the start he invites his audience to hand in written predictions. After all, recent history has been so unexpected they cannot be any less accurate than the experts. He then reads them out with a plan to bet on one and if it wins give the cash to a worthwhile cause.

An initial concern was that a worthwhile cause might be to pay a scriptwriter to come up with wittier predictions. A theme soon emerged. Trump will be impeached/resign, Theresa May will be ousted/resign, Jeremy Corbyn rules. The resolutely socialist comic and his fans clearly back the same horse.

It is the curveballs that offer most amusement. Guinea pigs are going to be hip. Aliens will land, tut, and go home. My longshot that Spurswill do the double must have been mislaid somewhere between the stalls and the stage.

Suggestions are punctuated by a mix of tub-thumping and stories, most memorably some heartfelt anecdotes about his father, who was by turns loving and cartoonishly violent. Incidentally, if they ever make a Thomas biopic, Ken Stott is a shoo-in for the passionate stand-up.

It is no surprise to learn that he is descended from a line of preachers. The fiery banter comes with added brimstone. Eventually a few pithy political forecasts surfaced. One was that the "Oh Jeremy Corbyn" chant might become a hit single. Thomas hinted that he is talking with a certain Corbynista grime star about this, so stay tuned.

There are definitely laughs, but flaws to the concept too. If Thomas wants to help good causes as well as entertain he needs a rethink. On this night the prediction that Boris Johnson will be punched by Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was chosen for the wager. One suspects the bookies will not be losing much sleep over that.

Picture by Steve Ullathorne.


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