Director: Hamish Pirie
Reviewer: Val Baskott
The Public Reviews Rating:
Bravo Figaro! or, How to Put on an Opera in a Bungalow in Bournemouth, Mark Thomas’ new one-man show, is an odyssey around his relationship with his father but it is not self–indulgent or maudlin. Aficionados of the left wing activist’s stand -up acerbic political humour won’t be disappointed as he tells the story of his South London builder father Colin, ‘a brutal Methodist-Thatcherite’ and workaholic. A perfectionist craftsman, self-improvement was Colin’s watchword and led him surprisingly to discover opera, that most elitist art form, and develop a passion for Rossini.
Thomas is a consummate and energetic storyteller, using minimal props and recorded voices he conjures up hilarious images of family life. His father sits in his armchair, dirty work trousers around his knees to keep the chair clean, listening to arias, or takes opera cassettes to play at work, blasting out across the rooftops of South London. There is a dark side too, beatings and disturbances of the peace and the relationship between father and son is distant and tense. However as Thomas matures he himself begins to discover opera, relating best to the contemporary and in particular John Adams work with a political message.
Now afflicted with progressive nuclear palsy, a degenerative neurological disease, Thomas senior is drifting away to a shadow of his former self. Through his professional connections Thomas set up a concert performance by Covent Garden singers in his parents’ Bournemouth bungalow, his attempt at a joyous goodbye to the best and worst between him and his father.
This show may be too autobiographical for some but it is by turns hilarious, poignant and deeply moving, Thomas has mined a rich vein of personal experience, which resonates deeply with his audience. More please.
Runs until August 26Edinburgh Fringe: Mark Thomas: Bravo Figaro! - Traverse Theatre,