Mark Steel: Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright

Mark Steel

Assembly Hall

From 03 August 2017 to 27 August 2017

Rating: *****

Review by David Chadderton

Mark Steel was getting a little sentimental about this being his last show of his Edinburgh run, to the extend of tweeting a picture of a not especially luxurious changing room afterwards with a goodbye message.

Steel tells us that the last year has been one of great turmoil, but he is not talking politics—at least not yet. Since last year's Fringe, he has been through a separation and divorce with his wife, and we get lots of information about the whole procedure, from when they met in Bolton and moved to Brighton to the arguments, legal proceedings and a horrible process called "mediation" with a person whom I'm sure was every bit as annoying and patronising as he made him sound.

At one point, he stopped and asked whether perhaps he should have saved this show for next year when he wasn't quite so bitter, but, while his wife clearly doesn't come out of the story well, the way he combines the personal and the political is really quite clever. He talks about how the explosion of hatred and anger seems to have come suddenly but it has been building up for a while without being noticed, drawing parallels with the Brexit vote and the Tory disaster at the last General Election.

Now in his fifties, Steel has become a mixture of angry socialist and an old guy complaining about how things are today, which makes for a very funny combination. After laughing at the Tories over the last election, he pleads for the return of Mary Whitehouse over a particularly hideous and explicit dating show on TV. He also shows his exasperation with wet liberals who, instead of kicking the Tories while they're down, are arguing with one another over, as he says, the correct word to use for transgender or Red Indian.

As he correctly observes, Twitter is the worst place for this sort of anger at everything and everyone, where any comment, however innocent, can provoke someone into being offended. But he also makes some great observations about the proliferation of betting shops, claims companies who persistently call you after an accident and specialist goods and services for the over-50s.

It's all tied very neatly together and always brilliantly observant and politically astute. He's finished here in Edinburgh, but he is worth looking out for elsewhere in the country—unless you're a particular fan of Jeremy Hunt. Or a friend of his wife.