Written By: Adam McCreevy
Format: Stand-Up Comedy
Date: March 8 2018
Location: Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool
Pipe bombs, curfews in The West Bank, two aspiring comedians, one experienced stand-up turned politically driven theatremaker, and a revealing story based on the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Palestinian refugee camp. All these ingredients have been assorted and mixed together to deliver a knowledgeable, educational but hilarious story.
When thinking of a Mark Thomas show, I immediately imagined one man on stage. A one-man character-driven comedy. However, in this case, Mark shares the stage with two of the actual students from the Freedom Theatre. The authenticity on stage is apparent. Faisal Abualheja and Alaa Shehada give the performance some youthful exuberance. Their physical comedic style works well alongside Mark’s polished stage presence. The two young performers are visibly a little nervous on stage, but this is something that makes you appreciate the depth to their story. It was refreshing to see and to be a part of.
The audience is gripped from the opening monologue that Mr. Thomas delivers with ease. He introduces the show by giving us some understanding as to what we will experience. Mr. Thomas explains the difficulties of just physically getting into Palestine, and exploring the towns and constituencies that could possibly house a comedy workshop. He depicts the characters excellently and has the audience encapsulated in the story from his first words.
As the story develops, Mark often cuts to his narrative. The show is depicting the development of another show. It gives the people of Jenin a voice. It tells a story that unfortunately will go widely untold. Faisal finds his form in his own stand-up routine. He completely and elegantly undermines the nightly curfew with stories of inappropriate sex, confused parents and children labelled as “terrorists” just because they are playing in their own streets.
Alaa uses the stage differently. He uses a physical style of comedy not often indulged these days. His gregarious personality comes through during his routine. Again, the authenticity is the most enlightening aspect. And the humour didn’t let us down either.
The show gives light to an intriguing part of the world. Mark opens on the stereotypes most of us will hold. He makes you think about how fortunate we really are. Mark also has shown that laughing in the face of what can only be described as political confusion and totalitarianism is the most refreshing method to effecting change.
This is a performance that could well give light to a new breed and new race of satirical talents. Something this world needs, especially for those without a voice.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good