Mark Thomas Trespass 24/8/15

Guest Reviewer Stewart Bremner:Mark Thomas Trespass.

Summerhall

24/8/15

 

Comedian and activist Mark Thomas’ new show, Trespass, tells the story of three long walks across the centre of London, undertaken to highlight the growing trend of the privatisation of public space. The walks take in areas where corporations and the wealthy have turned parts of London into their own miniature fiefdoms. It’s bad enough to have caused loyal Londoner Thomas, for the first time, to ponder leaving the city he loves. Told in a string of anecdotes, the hour-long performance is one of absurdity and anger. Absurdities lie in the policing of these spaces, owned by the likes of Mitsubishi and RBS, that Thomas provokes in a series social actions – each innocently playful in the face of stern opposition. The anger, when it happens, is red-in-the-face and entirely justified. It is clearly shared by the large portions of the audience, many of whom have not come along just to laugh. Yet it is a funny show. Thomas is an animated figure, fully able to engage and command the attention of his audience. He ably coats the bitter pill of modern Britain is his spot-on observational humour, while his social actions not only hark back to friendlier times but are often laughably ludicrous in their own right. Ironically, it is the location of the show that feels the most off. When Thomas at several points invites us to get involved in his next actions, it feels as if he is speaking in London. It is similarly estranging to note that Scotland’s separate land ownership laws and problems don’t get one mention. It gives a jarring undercurrent to the show, reinforcing the oft-made claim that the festival is no more than a London transplant into Edinburgh, having nothing to do with its location. Trespass is a fast-paced, funny and thought-provoking show. Anyone with a social conscious who enjoys the occasional giggle at the ludicrous nature of our corporate-owned world will love it, especially if they live down south.

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