A surreal, evasive and whimsical play that captivates with its sweetness, fantasy and gentle humour, with its characters at once sweet and grotesque and its fairy-tale dimension. In taking up the famous 2006 play, Floating, and the character of Hugh Hughes, Welsh artist Shôn Dale-Jones seems to want to build a bridge between past and present and investigate how the former can still speak to the latter.
The performer, in fact, wants to deal with a theme that is as topical as ever, to speak to an uprooted generation, of young people who, by choice or lack thereof, have found themselves living with a suitcase in hand, constantly on the move in a world without borders. It is a theme that acquires new meanings for the post-Brexit Anglo-Saxon people who now identify with that Hugh Hughes who almost twenty years ago found himself adrift as his island of Anglesey took off from the mainland.
In questioning what makes a place ‘home’, what can give us a sense of belonging, and at the same time how easy it is to get lost, to feel disjointed, disoriented at home, the artist relates to an entire generation increasingly disconnected from their origins, struggling to find themselves in the place where they live and at the same time to recognise themselves in their place of origin. All this with the help of a self-irony that conquers the heart and frees the mind, while surreal performances and the help of props make the play almost resemble an alienating modern fairy tale. Contributing even more to this effect is the narrator’s voice of Shôn himself who narrates moving between past and present, two different realities, the completely fictitious one and the real one, two worlds that appear, however, to be completely mirror-like. However, the message does not seem to arrive, or at least it remains suspended, while what the artist successfully conveys is only an emotion, a feeling of nostalgic loss, not only of a story that has perhaps rusted over the years, but also of a home, of a sense of belonging that one tries to reconstruct with art, with the art of storytelling.
A meta-theatrical one-man-show that seems to want to open to a reflection rather than reach a conclusion and that conquers for the artist’s self-irony and versatility.
Playing until 28th August, further information and tickets can be found HERE.
Reviewer: Anna Chiari
Reviewed: 16th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★