Mark Thomas: The Red Shed



Traverse Theatre

Venue 15

Times various

6 – 28 Aug, not Monday


 Mark Thomas: such passion, such rage, such superb command of audience, bringing them from uproarious laughter to silence and tears in the blink of an eye.  A consummate entertainer, a brilliant writer, a passionate believer in solidarity: politicians are doing their best to divide and rule by “concentrate on self and bugger everyone else, chum”…. so we must do it differently!


Mark’s first gigs were performed in The Red Shed in Wakefield – the 47-foot-long wooden Socialist club.  For its 50th anniversary this year, Mark has created a show combining an account of his own political coming of age with memories of the people and events that inspired him.  The show centres on a fascinating quest – Mark wants to know whether a very striking story which he often tells is in fact true, or whether he’s amended the truth to make the story better, and in trying to unearth the truth, he realises that people’s versions of the same event will differ in big or little ways.  What is the truth?  How much are you justified in telling a lie that enhances the story in a story that’s about unearthing the truth of something?


As ever in Mark’s performances, there is rage, anger at what has been done, what we are permitting to be done, to us.  What does it achieve?  Many, constant, murmurs of agreement in the audience, but who will do something about it? What can be done?  What good does raging do?  Rage over the losses, celebrate the spirit that won’t lie down: make sure that the memories and the people aren’t lost, make sure that we have somewhere to go to remember and derive strength and inspiration from those who went before.


I can do no better than to quote from Mark’s long-standing friend and co-conspirator, Peter Hirst:


Those of us who believe that we have a responsibility to leave the world and the people in it in better condition than we found it, need positive stories and places where those stories will get heard.  A repository of hope, where the belief is that, in the end, our endeavours will result in a world that is a fairer and better place.  Far too much of the story telling has been in the hands of the media, owned and controlled by those with a big share in the status quo.


This show celebrates 50 years of achievement: I wonder where we will be in another 50?

Mary Woodward