Relentless agitator and anti-authoritarian Mark Thomas decided to walk the length of the man-made barrier between Israel and the West Bank – as you do – and this show is the result.
Thomas is on coruscating form, perhaps even better than in his 90s glory days when the Mark Thomas Comedy Product on Channel 4 proved to we aspiring beardie lefties that peaceful resistance was possible and that the State doesn’t have to have the final say. In fact, the money he used to fund his trip to Palestine came from a legal action he won against the Metropolitan Police, thanks to an illegal stop-and-search. With a typically mischievous gleam in his eye, Thomas points out that he included their logo as a sponsor on his leaflet.
Flipping between pathos and comedy with practiced ease, one is reminded over and over again that Thomas is one of the finest wordsmiths in the business, with a turn of phrase that would put Daniel Kitson on the back foot. However, what really elevates Extreme Rambling above the norm is the true and remarkable story of what Thomas and his team achieved in undertaking such a difficult and, at times, very dangerous journey. Tear gas is a big element of one memorable strand, and stoning another, but the best – and worst – moment comes when Thomas describes the simple act of children playing on their way to school. It’s incredibly moving, and also completely horrifying.
It’s hard to imagine a better show at this year’s Fringe. Checking in at around the two-hour mark including a short break, it’s not one to slip in between seeing Frisky and Mannish and Late Night Gimp Fight. However, you will hang on Thomas’ every word and be completely caught up in his story. You won’t want this show to end, and surely that’s got to be the mark of a world-class performance.
Mark Thomas: Extreme Rambling, The Bongo Club, 7.30pm. 8-20 Aug (not 16)
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