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A father and son story guaranteed to move you, Bravo Figaro! is a seamless blend of theatre and stand-up comedy.  A one-person show, written and performed by acclaimed British writer, activist and comedian Mark Thomas.

Rangatira, Q Theatre, Auckland

From the Promo:

In life-changing moments, what do we do to reach out to each other?

Bravo Figaro! is the true tale of a self-employed builder, a battle with degenerative illness and opera in a bungalow in Bournemouth. It sees master storyteller, writer and “leading light of Britain’s alternative comedy scene” (The Guardian) Mark Thomas in a poignant and personal performance about his relationship with his father.

Thomas’ father has a passion for Verdi, Rossini, Puccini and Mozart, but when he is diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease, his life begins to crumble. As his father’s illness progresses, Thomas makes a larger-than-life gesture and stages a concert with singers from Covent Garden to try to connect with him through music.

Woven through with recordings of his parents’ voices and extracts from opera songs we all know and love, Bravo Figaro! is theatre filled with laughs and lots of heart.

Franciska's Review:

I love Q Theatre.  Such an awesome venue which is transformed to accommodate large-scale musical productions such as Jesus Christ Superstar down to the most intimate of shows such as Bravo Figaro!  We actually had tickets for the Gods, but as the seats downstairs hadn't all sold, we were invited to fill the gaps.  The atmosphere created is perhaps best described as cozy ~ as if we were sitting in a cafe, a cocktail bar, or Mark Thomas' lounge.  It reminded me of years gone by when we sat around the dining table listening to my father's stories of his childhood or his days in military service in Hungary.

In fact, throughout the one hour performance, I was taken back to memories of my father.  From the image of Colin Thomas with his curly hair, mustache and beard... the descriptions of his personality ~ a good, hardworking man with (perhaps questionable) morals.  Strong in physique and character.  Intelligent, opinionated, and short tempered.  With a soft side.  Expressed in his love for opera.

My father also loved music.  From the likes of Boney-M to Hungarian folk songs, operettas and classic operas.  Sunday mornings our house (and neighbourhood) would fill with his favourite tunes and just like Colin Thomas, my father would be singing right along ~ even though (aside from the Hungarian songs) he didn't know the words, let alone understand them.

His attire generally comprised of track pants, a white singlet, and an apron.  It seems that dads of a certain era have their own trademark "uniform".  Fortunately for me, (unlike Mark's father) mine remained relatively decent at all times.  Once lunch was cooked, the music was turned off as we sat down to a two course meal and the story telling began.  Every Sunday.  Without fail.

I could relate to everything Mark had to say.  I love my father and miss him dearly, but for much of my childhood I was afraid of angering him.  He worked long hours and once he was home, he expected the luxury of peace and quiet to relax and rest.  God help the soul who kept him from his afternoon siesta on the weekends!  In my teens I had no interest in his music and although I grew to enjoy classical music as I became an adult, it was only after his passing that I truly began to appreciate opera.  I mourn the fact that we never had the chance to enjoy the performing arts together.

I also carried out a grand gesture for my father whilst a terminal illness slowly destroyed him.  Not quite the scale of Mark ~ but enough to move him to tears.  Time stood still.  And I wish I could have packed away that moment in a keepsake box so that I could relive it over and over.  Instead, I have a pendant ~ created from that ring which I had commissioned for him ~ which I happened to be wearing on the night of this performance.  I must have been clasping it subconsciously as by the time I returned home, the chain broke.

The helplessness and despair of watching a loved one slowly slip away is indescribable. 

We cannot change the past and the future isn't promised.  Show up, stay present, and enjoy the now for all the beauty and lessons it offers.  Live with passion and never leave anything unspoken.

Mark did a brilliant job of weaving humour throughout his telling of a bittersweet story.  Perhaps better suited to a more "mature" audience, Bravo Figaro! is a must see.