This year, Fringe favourite Mark Thomas returns to his stand-up roots, with his newest hour A Show That Gambles on the Future, in that he leaves behind the theatre and is back onstage with just a mic for company. Being Mark Thomas, however, this political piece isn’t all cheap Brexit gags and Trump impressions. Instead, the audience are invited to join him as we bet on the state of our future.
In the queue, the audience are asked to write down their predictions for the future, which Thomas then reads out in the show before asking everyone to vote on their favourite. The forecasts range from the predictable – with many following the lines of “Theresa May will resign” and “Donald Trump will be impeached” – to some more niche statements – like the slip that simply says, “my neighbour’s cat will stop pissing on my doorstep”. Thomas reads each one out with glee, with a comment or story for each one. This communal aspect to the show creates a great atmosphere of camaraderie in the room, with Thomas inviting audience members to discuss their thoughts with him. Many of his observations might be comical, but there’s also an interesting social aspect to the show at play, as we find out more about the people around us in an honest look at our community’s hopes and fears.
Some anecdotes about Thomas’ ‘thug’ dad make for humorous listening, even if not particularly relevant to the themes at large, as do his accounts of his local bookie who is stuck with the job of finding odds for the extremely specific bets he brings back from the show. However, at other times, A Show That Gambles on the Future suffers from being a little monotonous: although it succeeds as an interesting concept and enlightening look at politics and social concerns, it doesn’t exactly fit the bill as run of the mill stand-up for those simply on the hunt for a laugh.
Words: Chiara Margiotta
Picture: Jane Hobson
Mark Thomas: A Show That Gambles on the Future, Summerhall, Aug 15-27 (not 19), 6pm