The Red Shed (4 stars)

Mark Thomas keeps the red flag flying

The Red Shed

credit: Sally Jubb

Well known for his ability to sweeten his socialist message with a spoonful of comedy and effortless theatricality, Mark Thomas is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wakefield Labour Club where he first engaged in political theatre. He begins a quest to discover whether the romantic story, upon which he has built his own political beliefs, has any basis in truth, making a show that is part tribute to the resilience of the labour movement and part local history.

Thomas' usual tactics – interviews with allies and supporters, a personal take on large events (this time, the miners' strike) and his amiable persona – are placed at the service of the big question: is it important that a story tells the complete truth? Inevitably, this isn't resolved, but his adventure allows him to cast light on an increasingly marginalised era. It also reaffirms his socialist beliefs.

Less interested in persuading the audience of the rightness of his cause than strengthening its importance, Thomas strays away from his central story, adding detail but occasionally shifting attention from the cause to himself. Nevertheless, it provides the expected passion and thoughtfulness that has characterised his recent theatrical outings.

Traverse, until 28 Aug, times vary, £20.50 (£8.50–£15.50).

Mark Thomas: Red Shed

  • 4 stars

Incisive humour and satire as Mark Thomas explores the arena where he began stand-up: a red wooden shed in Wakefield.


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