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Mark Thomas: Cuckooed, Traverse Theatre Until August 24

Exactly a decade ago, Mark Thomas did a Fringe show at the Bongo Club, the second half of which laid into the Coca-Cola Company.

I have not knowingly drunk a Coca-Cola product in the 10 years since. His is a brand of comedy that carries a far weightier purpose than to simply generate laughs - although he does that, hilariously, over and over again.

In that same show, he mentioned an act of protest done the previous year that had ended up with him fastened by bike lock to the undercarriage of a bus taking arms dealers to a convention. The same episode is briefly revisited in Cuckooed, although the theatrical complexity of Thomas's shows has blossomed in the intervening years to the extent that it would be doing him a disservice to simply call what he now does 'stand-up'.

Cuckooed isn't the expose of BAE Systems and the arms industry that I'd initially expected (Thomas has been there, done that, in print, on stage and on television many times over the years). Building, in a way, on his 2012 Fringe show Bravo Figaro - a profoundly moving examination of his difficult relationship with his late father - Cuckooed centres on a subject that's far more personally felt: the political betrayal by a close friend who, it would appear, was spying for BAE Systems all the time he was standing, fist raised, alongside Thomas in the activist movement.

The trademark Thomas style - part entertaining prank, part exhaustive investigation - uncovers many of the slugs crawling about beneath the stones of data theft and public surveillance. But it's the double whammy of a class traitor and lying best mate that still visibly stings Thomas to the core.

The staging of the show is brilliantly efficient, Thomas's passion punching home the points - and the jokes - while video interviews with the story's key players are timed to perfection as screen monitors emerge from nondescript metal filing cabinets positioned on the stage.

The issues raised have global consequences, but it's down at the level of the individual - notions of friendship, treachery, deception - that Cuckooed leaves a lasting impression.

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