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Posts Tagged ‘Shon Dale-Jones’

For an island with a population of only seventy thousand, Anglesey appears to have more than it’s fair share of theatrical eccentrics. First there was Shon Dale-Jones aka Hugh Hughes, ‘emerging artist’ and storyteller, now Seiriol Davis, the composer and lead performer of this quirky show about another Anglesey eccentric, Henry Paget, the 5th Marquess of Anglesey, a cross-dressing thespian who lost a fortune and died young.

With the assistance of Matthew Blake and Dylan Townley, Davies tells the story of the Marquess, and in particular his thespian career, performing Wilde and Shakespeare amongst others, touring the UK with his shows, featuring his idiosyncratic dances, and his early death in Monte Carlo after squandering his entire annual income (£11m at today’s value).

The songs are rather good and the whole thing is a quirky camp curiosity which seems to have the spirit of the man who inspired it. It has a cheeky, playfulness about it, a permanent twinkle in its eye, one long wink. All three performances are excellent and the design is a delight. It was impossible not to smile throughout.

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For this show, Shon Dale-Jones has stripped it back to pure storytelling – no other characters, no props, no sound or lighting. It proves to be as captivating, but more unpredictable. That barometer of whether I’ll like something, the Standard’s Fiona Mountford, hated it, so it must be good – and it is.

He links the story of his childhood obsession with Robin Hood and his present day preoccupation with unfairness. The early story takes in under-11’s football, the relationship between his dad and grandma, 70’s politics and a bank robbery. The contemporary story takes in protest, arrest, therapy and his perilous financial state. It seems to move between the two randomly, but it’s clearly well made theatre. The big surprise is the genuine emotion, anger and passion on display, which sometimes makes you uncomfortable, whilst at the same time underlining its integrity.

This is the sixth of his shows I’ve seen. It’s just as charming, just as eccentric and as off-the-wall as the rest, but somehow more edgy. You never know how much of the story is true, but it doesn’t matter as it’s an effective combination of personal, ethical and political themes. He leaves you suggesting you donate (and top up) the difference between the actual ticket price and the normal ticket price (his profit) to Street Child United. He didn’t rob the rich, but persuaded them (us) to part with some dosh nonetheless.

A true original .

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I’m very fond of the work of Shon Dale-Jones, affable eccentric storyteller AKA Hugh Hughes, formerly known as an ’emerging Welsh artist’. This new work, the fourth of his shows I’ve seen, is a delightful 60-minute solo piece which links together the accidental breakage of a family heirloom, the refugee crisis and a film script he’s writing (based on the first show of his I saw, Floating).

He greets each audience member as they arrive, and bids them farewell as they leave. He sits at a desk throughout, operating lights and sound himself. His tale is interspersed with snatches of music. It moves between Anglesey and Cambridge and features his mother, wife, Tony from the bargain car rental centre, film-maker Gavin / Kate, a porcelain-collecting senior policeman, four Royal Worcester porcelain figures (one of which is The Duke) and an Audi TT! It’s difficult to describe this very personal, charming, captivating story, at times funny and at times moving, which the audience engaged with throughout.

Tickets are free, allocated rather than sold, with donations to Save the Children encouraged. It was a bit sad that though all tickets were allocated on the night I went, there were many spaces – shame on you, no-shows!

Delightful.

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It’s so hard to categorise, describe and review Hugh Hughes, the alter ego of Welsh ’emerging artist’ Shon Dale-Jones. This is the fourth of his shows I’ve seen since coming across him at the Edinburgh fringe with a piece called Floating, about the day Anglesey floated off into the Atlantic Ocean! In essence, he’s a storyteller, many of whose stories are, or seem to be, biographical. He’s also quirky, charming, and completely off-the-wall.

His new show is part of a project about memories. Take a look at the web site that is also part of the project www.invisibletownstories.co.uk and you’ll probably get a flavour of the eccentricity of it all. He’s on stage with his ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ , a keyboard player and a technician. They talk about and recreate memories, with some on video, that are ignited by their ‘mother’s’ illness and subsequent home move. They cover their childhood, their relationships as children and adults, their dead father and their family home.

It’s a slower burn than usual but when it draws you in you are captivated and enthralled and you find yourself delving into your own memories. There’s a lot of warmth and a lot more depth than it seems at first. I would imagine some people find it difficult, but I find it an oasis of uniqueness in a copycat world and a highly addictive habit which, after four shows, I now feel I have developed. I’m now thinking ‘whatever next’ and I can’t wait to find out.

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