It is a thrill to be back on assignment at the Brisbane Powerhouse for Scenestr magazine. I took Karen to see The Duke to see on Valentines Day 2019 and the next night we attended Robin Hood & Me. Both are one-man shows from the talented artist Shon Dale-Jones of Hoipolloi theatre.
Seeing both shows in close proximity it is hard not to draw comparisons between the two. The Welshman is playing with narrative structure throughout and engaging with his audiences openly commenting on when something gets a laugh or cause silence. At our performance of The Duke a reaction that seemed to suggest an awareness of what was coming prompted him to remark “I see we have some writers in the room.” He creates an intimate atmosphere where you get wrapped up in the story even if he has been upfront about the fact that some of it may just be a story. The Duke featured a dear old Mum from Anglesey and a bit of whimsy. Robin Hood & Me featured more rage and despair in the performance of Shon Dale-Jones and was more upfront about how the narrative could have been a beautiful lie told to comfort ourselves.
Despite the differences in tone and remembrance of different times, each could conceivably relate to the one person and life especially when you consider that some of it is fantasy. As a sentimental soul I can’t deny my preference for the The Duke and my admiration Robin Hood & Me. Both were really good. You can read my review of The Duke here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/the-duke-review-brisbane-powerhouse-20190215 and my review of Robin Hood & Me here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/me-robin-hood-review-brisbane-powerhouse-20190219
After each which touched upon the less fortunate in our society there were buckets present to receive donations for charities that help those in need. I allow for the possibility that this is a Banksian-level commentary on the theatre going public, middle class guilt and the espousal of art but I think something much more sincere is going on. I think Shon is genuine about his concern for his fellow human beings and he writes pieces of theatre that will engage us to think of others, to donate time and money to charities and in our actions to feel a little bit better about the world.
It is fascinating to wonder which parts of his life really happened but what is definitely real is the emotions he stirs up in us and the values that he asserts are important. That’s real enough for me and I happily put some cash in those buckets on my way out.
Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month