Monday 03rd August

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Mark Thomas 1 - PLEASE CREDIT Jane Hobson

Mark Thomas: “I’m obsessed with how you break out of that individualistic stand-up model and involve people.”

Mark Thomas has returned to London with A Show That Gambles on the Future, exploring people’s hopes and fears for the coming years.  The show, which varies dramatically from night to night, is an interesting departure from his recent scripted performances but has injected Thomas with enthusiasm for unpredictability.  Ahead of the run at Leicester Square Theatre until 28th October, he spoke to Ian Cater about stand-up comedy’s limitations, getting laughed at Up North and the price of Freddo Frog chocolate bars. 

If we learnt anything from last year, it’s that making predictions is a mug’s game.  Unless you get them right of course, which – despite the off-target examples of Michael Fish, Kaiser Chiefs and Dick Advocaat – people do manage from time to time.  And that’s what Mark Thomas is asking his audiences to attempt in A Show That Gambles on the Future.

Each night, Thomas asks attendees to write down some forecasts, the best of which he riffs on at length and opens up to general discussion.  At the end of the show, the audience gets to choose which prediction Thomas should bet on at the bookies, with all winnings going to charity.

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Category: Comedy
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Tony Law: A Law Undo His-Elf What Welcome, 21st – 29th October 2016 at Leicester Square Theatre

Tonight, award-winning absurdist comedian Tony Law brings his special brand of comedy-art to Leicester Square Theatre for seven nights of surreal silliness with new show A Law Undo His-Elf What Welcome.  The Canadian, known as one of the most unique performers on the comedy circuit, whisks his audiences away on a trip into his imagination – a world of jokes, stories and performance art.

Although Law rarely disappoints, he told Ian Cater that he believes he’s back to his very best: welcome news from a true master of his craft.

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Category: Art
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James Wilson-Taylor: Ginger Is The New Black, 1st – 5th November 2016 at Leicester Square Theatre

Ah, Autumn.  The ground matted with crisp, ocher leaves that release a congenial crunch and create a copper-coloured carpet.  Early sunsets dye the sky blood-red and enflame wisps of cloud freckling the planet.  An urban fox – painted from the edges of its ears to the tip of its tail in rich, titian pelt – hides in the undergrowth, nibbling at a discarded … erm, Solero.  This seasonal scene provides the perfect backdrop for James Wilson-Taylor to return to Leicester Square Theatre with his new show, Ginger Is The New Black, between 1st and 5th November 2016.  

As with his previous successes – Bat-Fan and I Need a Doctor: The Whosical, Wilson-Taylor unravels a tightly-written night of entertaining songs, stand-up comedy and pleasing pop culture references all delivered in his warm, relaxed style.  However, this show marks a slight change of tack, using the stage to stand up for his carrot-topped kin.  And that’s not all.  As he told Ian Cater, Wilson-Taylor’s also making his fellow gingers an offer they can’t refuse.

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Category: Comedy
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Tom Stade: ‘You’re Welcome!’, UK Tour 2016

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By Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Tom Stade, the live wire Canadian comedian, hits Glastonbury this weekend before finishing off his UK tour and taking a well-deserved break at the end of 2016.  Years of performing up and down the UK have paid off for Stade: he’s conquered his adopted homeland, featured regularly on TV and built a reputation for his deceptively powerful stage presence and top-drawer storytelling.  

What’s On London interviewed Stade before his recent Leicester Square Theatre show and can confirm he’s got plenty of tales to tell: whether it’s getting innocently arrested for affray, planning a celebrity-filled hot tub or accidentally moving to Edinburgh, all are narrated with the excitement and eloquence of an exceptionally erudite alcoholic.  In a good way.  Our advice: if you’re lucky enough to be at Glastonbury on Saturday, make time to see him.    

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Category: Comedy
The Axis of Awesome: Viva La VIda Loca Las Vegas

The Axis Of Awesome. Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas.

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If anyone is in Leicester Square this week and comes across human faces floating on the breeze like oversized autumn leaves, don’t be alarmed. The explanation is simple. On Saturday night, comedy-rock legends, The Axis Of Awesome, blew these faces clean off the skulls of their enthralled audience. The now faceless audience were there to see TAOA’s newest show ‘Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas’. I think it’s fair to say at this point that if comedy awards were ever given out for ‘Best Comedy Show Title’, then this show title would take the biscuit, the tin and the entire kitchen cupboard.

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Category: Comedy
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Photograph by Tim Stubbs Hughes

Marriage @ Jack Studio Theatre

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Another capacity crowd at the Jack Studio Theatre welcomed a new run of Gogol’s ‘Marriage’. Loaded with wisecracks from the start, the story, such as it is (translator Howard Colyer compares it to ‘Waiting for Godot’) is a grower. Sunny Jeon’s graphic-y design, de-constructed, Surreal, opens-up the space. You almost feel inside the setting whilst simultaneously looking-on. Is the same dichotomy shared by the players?

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Category: Comedy
Othello (Nari Blair-Manget) and Iago (James Alexandrou) in action
Othello (Nari Blair-Manget) and Iago (James Alexandrou) in action

Othello at Leicester Square Theatre

Celebrating the bard’s 450th birthday this year, Grassroots Shakespeare London are currently staging Othello in the intimate Leicester Square Theatre. The basement lounge space is extremely small, making the performance very cozy. Telling the story of Venice’s general, the newly-married Othello (Nari Blair-Mangat) is very much envied by his ‘friend’ Iago (James Alexandrou), a fellow soldier who having been ignored for too long, plots a fateful revenge.

Lead Blair-Mangat comes across as slightly overacting at times, I’m not sure whether this is a Shakespearian thing and not being a regular Shakespeare attendee I wouldn’t want to say for sure. He is either far too softly spoken or way too loud for the tiny room. For me, he was not convincing enough as a leader, and I left wondering why so many people desperately seek approval from him throughout.

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Category: Art
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Tom Wrigglesworth – Utterly at Odds with the Universe.

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Tom Wrigglesworth, also known as Frank Zappa, has built up quite the following on Radio Four.  He’s currently doing the rounds with his new stand up show, entitled ‘Utterly at Odds with the Universe’.  Apart from having the finest surname in comedy, it’s worth mentioning early in the review that Mr. Wrigglesworth has a voice like warm honey. And just so we’re clear on this matter, I consider warm honey to be a good thing.

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Category: Comedy