Sunday, 17 August 2014

The humour of deceit - Cuckooed, by Mark Thomas

An absolutely fascinating tale, told by an expert in telling tales. And it is all the more effective for being true!

Mark Thomas has dramatised a period of his life when he was active in the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. A period where one of their foremost activists, their most charismatic campaigners and someone who became a close friend to Mark and many others was exposed as a spy. A spy planted in the organisation by an agency on behalf of BAE Systems who reported to them on the CAAT's activities. 

Thomas uses a theatrical setting for his performance. Although it is a one-man show, he has gone back and interviewed the people involved at the time. Not only that he has filmed them, and they appear like an administrative Beckett play, on screens set in filing cabinets. All except one.

While the story and the situation is tailor-made for Thomas and one of his political diatribes - and he doesn't miss the political targets - the personal imbues the political with a tinge of sadness. Our spy isn't living the high life in Monte Carlo but in a two-up  two-down somewhere in the Medway area (I am surmising as Thomas makes it clear he is not going to be identified or targeted).

There is humour, there is pathos, there is political campaigning. It isn't the huge belly laugh that Thomas can generate, but maybe that's part of the personal journey that he has taken. 

Traverse Theatre, until the 24 August. various times. It will then be on tour across England (with a gig in Northern Ireland) during October and November, finishing with a season in London in December. Dates here

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