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Mark Little: THEbullsh*tARTIST

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

The stage for Mark Little’s first Fringe stand-up show in seven years is set up like an Occupy camp, and he starts by emerging from his banner-strewn tent and into the barely disguised lecture theatre that is Assembly One.

He claims to be representing the comedy wing of the  Hove Communist Party, setting out his stall for an hour of provocative politics, and makes reference to the global protests about the one per cent as ‘the revolution that never happened’.

Which is ironic, as this seems to be a show that never happens, too, for Little takes so long dealing with the admin that we never get to much meat.

He claims it’s because Britain has become so dumbed down that he can’t launch straight into his agitprop material without first finding some common ground that everyone can identify with. So there’s a long ‘who’s in from…?’ segment where we cover the globe, before we get on to the fact he was Joe Mangle in Neighbours 20 years ago.

This gets cheers, but he’s borderline irate that this three-year stint is all people remember of his 33-year career. Yet then there’s a ten minute section on the soap, referencing old characters and plotlines.

So the upshot is that to fully enjoy a show supposedly about left-wing politics, you need to be a fan of old Australian bubblegum telly. It seems a small overlap of demographics, and ensures Little won’t leave the Mangle mantle behind for another year yet.

When, after 40 minutes, we get to some anti-capitalist stuff, it’s a performance poem – well-delivered – that calls Rupert Murdoch rude names, not the most controversial of opinions.

Then we’re back to audience participation to determine the age range of everyone, and apologises for the youngsters for the mess the middle-aged have left them, before a closing bit about Twitter.

The subjects than genuinely interest him flicker around his core material like moths – the Twitter routine, for example, is prefaced by a preamble about the original Luddites – but they very rarely take centre stage. The result is a show that feels too lightweight for those wanting some political beef; though it might plant some seeds among those who came to see the guy from Neighbours.

He’s an affable fella, excellent at rousing his audience and getting them behind him, but doesn’t seem entirely convinced what to do with them once he’s assembled such a group. Yet there are flashes of great ideas and strong jokes that suggest what this show could become. He would surely develop a more strident voice if he came to the Fringe more than once every seven years.

Review date: 12 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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