Review: Trespass - Mark Thomas at the Cambridge Junction. “Hilariously funny, but there is a serious side.”

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - Credit: Archant

Mark Thomas is a man who cuts to the chase. His two-hour show Trespass fits somewhere in the bracket of comedy and political rally. It felt like a call to arms - a wake up call to all those of us who quietly go about our daily business not noticing all the injustice and unfairness on our own doorsteps.

He does his own warm-up, ego, he told us, and kicked off with an expletive-filled rant about David Cameron and his university antics, none of which is printable in a family newspaper unfortunately. For anyone not familiar with Mark Thomas the best way of describing him is: a comedian and political agitator. Interestingly, the Metropolitan Police keep a careful eye on him. In fact, they even have a file on him because he has been given the official classification of “domestic extremist”. He has, of course, demanded to see his file under the Data Protection Act and since discovered the force describe him as: “general rabble rouser and alleged comedian”. He was once stopped in the street under Stop and Search laws because he “appeared over confident”. He managed to successfully sue the Met police and won £1200.

Despite many brushes with the law he does not have a criminal record and admits that while around 50 per cent of police officers are indifferent towards him, about a quarter are “smiley”.

In the first half of the show he told us about his 100 acts of minor dissent, which he committed between May 2013 and May 2014.

All of which are hilariously funny, but there is also a serious side.

Act 5 resulted from the discovery that when Amazon took over Love Film it refused to provide sub-titles for deaf people, even though this happens automatically in the US. Thomas decided to pop along to Amazon’s HQ and erect a banner that read “Love Film hates Deaf People”. That act of minor descent resulted in a change of company policy later that evening.

Act 17 was about shelf barkers, those little signs in supermarkets that encourage us to buy one item and get another one for free. Thomas describes them as “often misleading” and “propaganda designed to encourage shoppers to buy more”.

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So he made his own and placed them in various supermarkets. One which read: “2 for the price of 4” and another “buy 1 and get nothing”.

The second half of the show concentrates on what Thomas describes as “social cleansing” and involves what the planners and developers call “regeneration” of our towns and cities, which usually means loss of open space and even rights of way. Mr Thomas, who was born and bred in south London, does not take too kindly to this.

Along the Thames footpath near Clapham Common there is a section where new homes have been built and they sit behind large gates, but some of the people who live in these properties do not appeciate people spending too much time on the footpath that runs along the perimeter - hence some signs declaring “no loitering” and “no fishing” were erected.

He checked with his lawyers and was told he couldn’t organise a demo otherwise he would be arrested, but he was determined to loiter and encouraged other people to do the same. People brought cake and loitered and the neighbours in their million-pound homes got a bit upset.

And if that all sounds like a complete waste of time, then you may have missed the point that this is public land. It belongs to us and as Thomas points out: “we are seeing a blurring of the boundaries between public and private land all over the country”.

He went on to dress a Shaun the Sheep and embark on a 10k walk outside the Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters in London because the company claims a triangle area of land outside their building is private land. He cleverly walked the boundary so as not to trespass.

Depending on your viewpoint you will either feel that dressing as Shaun the Sheep to make a point about regeneration of our cities and loss of public land is silly or you will want to rise up out of the armchair and make sure it’s not happening in your town or neighbourhood.

If you fall into the latter category, contact Mark Thomas at: www.markthomasinfo.co.uk.

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