Review: Mark Thomas

You might go to a Mark Thomas gig expecting to be harangued, to be heckled, to be humbled - but you don't go expecting to have your heart toyed with. With his latest show Bravo Figaro, you should.

This piece of solo theatre is an emotional and deeply personal exploration of Thomas' father, a builder with a surprising passion for opera and a sudden decline at the hands of progressive supranuclear palsy.

Through the prism of family tales and snippets of recorded interviews, and softly peppered with jokes, we learn of a bold and difficult man and how disease can rob someone of themselves - and how the power of music can, however briefly, return them to their loved ones.

There are traces of the familiar Mark Thomas, the left-wing activist who plays extravagant and very public tricks on the establishment, but this is Thomas as a supremely-gifted story teller who tessellates each small segment in to a glorious and heart-wrenching whole. Against a simple set scattered with memories, he unfolds himself and his family until they are united in the kind of bizarre yet beautiful scene that only someone with Thomas' showman audacity could conceive.

It never cloys or feels forced, instead resonating with an honesty that can help us believe that imperfect people can have perfect moments.

Bravo indeed.

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