Mark Thomas: A Show That Gambles on the Future ****



Venue 26

18.00 (run ends 27th Aug, not 14th, 19th)

 How on earth do you begin to describe a Mark Thomas performance?  “Howlingly subversive” is how I described his show a few years ago…  If you’ve seen Mark, I can say “he was as brilliant as ever”: if you haven’t, I have to say you don’t know what you’ve been missing.


This year’s show starts from the point of admitting that the majority of professional pundits and politicians have been stonkingly wrong in all their predictions, asks us to consider on what basis we might make predictions – with just as much chance, if not more, of being proved right – and invites us to contribute our own predictions for the future.  These are written and handed in as the audience assemble: Mark reads them out and invites us to choose the one they most strongly wish to support.  This will then be lodged as a bet at a bookmaker, the stake being the £1s we are asked to contribute as we leave the show.  Successful bets’ winnings will be distributed in a variety of ways: when Mark has done shows in small venues, the winnings are given to the venue: quite what was going to happen to any winnings from his Edinburgh gigs was a little less clear to me.


While telling us of his family background and childhood, and the first prediction he made when he announced what he was going to be when he grew up [see the show to find out!], Mark skilfully tested the political temperature of the audience and gave us, among other things, his views on various religions, the pecking order of supermarkets, and the consequences of growing up in an extremely volatile atmosphere before leading us into a consideration of the predictions made tonight.


Most predictions were apocalyptic in one way or another, and a very large number (unsurprisingly) centred on Donald Trump.  A major diversion from Mark’s plan was caused by the prediction that “I will be sued by the man who stole my cat” – this had to be investigated in full, with the willing co-operation of the person who had made the prediction – a completely unscripted ten-minute diversion down a fascinating side-street, to accompanying gales of laughter.  A script writer who dreamed up this particular scenario would be castigated for being unbelievable, but this was a real scenario.


Having heard all the predictions, we had to vote for our favourite/ the one we thought most likely.  Donald Trump attempting to invade North Korea and attacking New Zealand by mistake got the loudest applause – until the cat thief sueing the cat’s owner was read out: the ensuing uproar made this prediction the clear winner by a huge margin.  Now all Mark has to do is place the bet and keep in touch with the cat owner…


It all sounds very dry when written down, but was an hour’s delightful, uproarious anarchy that left me feeling a lot more cheerful and ready to face whatever insanity the world throws at us next.  Laughter is good for you, and Mark Thomas provides it in bucketloads – don’t miss this show!

 Mary Woodward