Shôn Dale-Jones, the Artistic Director of Hoipolloi, is both the writer and sole performer of ‘The Duke’. A poetic, personal story surrounding the accidental breaking of a family heirloom. Our leading man procrastinates from his mammoth screen-writing project to comfort his beloved mother and her heartbreak over a dear Duke of Wellington figurine.
Shôn welcomes the audience into the space, shaking each of our hands with an approachable smile. We are immediately made comfortable and at ease by his Welsh charm. He makes sure we are ok and settled without coming across as patronising.
A simple set up. A laptop, a microphone, a mini tech mixer, a table and chair. Shôn is his own technician, not to show off but for ‘financial reasons’ he assures us. You can tell he has a background in radio, managing to engage the audience with just the spoken word, and bursts of music here and there. The short musical interludes add a dramatic flare to the story telling. Shôn’s delightful fumbling at moments does not take away from the story but creates a wholesome feel.
Shôn is subtle in his goal to raise money for ‘Save the Children’, he doesn’t guilt trip or force feed the audience a reality check. He doesn’t patronise or lecture. Instead he creates an enjoyable experience from his own perspective, peppered with poignant moments of sobriety. The devastating war in Syria and the horrors and dangers experienced by refugee children everyday invades his line of thought throughout his story. Just for a second, the all familiar sickening tug in his gut stirs him from his day-to-day life. Remembering what we all try to forget. This is a clear insight into many people’s mind in this current climate. Shôn acknowledges that we ‘can’t change the world, but I can change my script’ and we can donate what we can.
This uplifting show helps to regain your hope in humanity. We must all find enjoyment in the simple moments in our lives. Like a father and son pulling an heirloom out from under the bed. Or taking a moment to appreciate a loving partner. Or a random conversation with a man who will never sell a wedding dress. Or an elderly woman, merry with drink, skipping down the street.
I highly recommend.
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A 23 year old, working as an actor, writer and director. Born in Glasgow and moved to Edinburgh five years ago to study Acting and English at Edinburgh Napier.
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