Review: Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas. Promo pic for Cuckooed show at Norwich Playhouse, December 2014.

Mark Thomas. Promo pic for Cuckooed show at Norwich Playhouse, December 2014. - Credit: Steve Ullathorne

Betrayal is at the heart of comedian Mark Thomas' latest show, which focuses on the extent arms manufacturers are alleged to have gone to to spy on ant-war campaigners.

The first betrayal though is of the Norwich Playhouse audience, with the first half of the show a re-hash of last year's 100 Acts of Minor Dissent. While Thomas' attempt to get a dictionary definition of 'farage' – meaning residual 'bin juice' – is funny, his apparent joke that he is cheaper than a traditional up-and-coming support act falls flat when he delivers recycled material.

The show proper at least features fresh material, albeit based on events of a decade ago. Thomas chronicles how a prominent member of the Campaign Against The Arms Trade was found to be supplying information about their activities to people connected to BAE Systems, although the alleged leaker has always denied the accusations.

Cuckooed is as much a personal story – Thomas had regarded the man as a close friend – as about the organisations, but the semi-theatrical staging makes his anger feel somewhat synthetic. I've no doubt it is genuine, but it is diminished in its impact by the way it is presented.

We don't feel the consequences of the betrayal. It is not made real enough to be powerful, which is what the theatre is really about.

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