Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Mark Thomas wonders who is watching

Cuckooed review
Mark Thomas wonders who is watching

Gareth K Vile

//Star rating

//Body text
Polemical and intense, Mark Thomas merges the political and personal in this taut and true tale of friendship, activism and betrayal. Based on Thomas' experiences campaigning against the arms trade – and explaining why he would become the trade's scourge – it examines the question of whether one of his closest allies had been spying on him for the people that they both protested.

Thomas' charisma carries the story, even in those episodes which require concise political detail. While he still manages the occasional joke, he is clearly moving away from being a stand-up comedian towards an effective, dramatic monologist. Using video projection to bring in a range of verbatim speeches from other members of the campaign, and trying to draw a rounded picture of how it felt to be betrayed, Thomas reveals a sensitivity to theatrical spectacle, even as he insists on the piece's integrity and honesty.

Emma Callendar's direction keeps the pace sharp, but it is Thomas who – as the writer and performer, and the heart of the story – maintains a ferocity that is equally personal and political. His passion for freedom from surveillance, and belief in the possibility of change makes this more than a drab, rhetorical exercise. It is an appeal to action.

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