Writer and Performer: Shón Dale-Jones
Reviewer: Daryl Holden
When creating a show in which you want to tackle the issue of millions of children having to sleep on the streets, it seems just a tad insensitive to centre that same ninety-minute show around yourself and barely mention a relevant charity both throughout and on the flyers. What would make this worse would be to then shoehorn that exact issue in right at the end, despite having little relevance to the rest of the piece.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what Shón Dale-Jones has done in his show, Me & Robin Hood, a one-man performance about his life, his beliefs, how he adores Robin Hood, and most importantly, what a tremendous human being he is.
The piece centres on storytelling. No lighting effects, no sound, no set. Just Dale-Jones moving back and forth on stage, telling three or four different stories at once. However, the stories themselves differ greatly and rarely connect. One tells of how Dale-Jones was arrested, another of his upbringing, another of Robin Hood and another of his counselling sessions. In this particular show though, Dale-Jones openly admits to us multiple times that his stories are lies, and then goes back on what he has said and tells it anew. It’s at this point the audience lose any idea of what is real and what is not, and ultimately, lose interest in the stories altogether.
It’s evident though, that this show doesn’t really care all too much about its audience. Dale-Jones moans throughout about how hard his life as a performer is, and one particular instance in which only 17 people had purchased tickets for his show, and he only made £50 profit. It seems that as an actor, he has completely forgotten that no matter if there’s one or one thousand in attendance, they’ve still taken time out to come and see you, and you should be appreciative that they’ve done so.
That idea is lost on this performer. Even in this piece, most of the audience looked understandably uncomfortable being spoken to in a way that made them feel under attack and made out to be the villains. In one case, Dale-Jones made a remark to a woman sitting in the front row about how her feet were on his stage, and it made him feel less important. In another, a man walked back in from the bar with a glass of water to stop himself coughing and interrupting the show. That doesn’t matter though, the show is stopped anyway and the man is verbally berated by the performer. Dale-Jones keeps beating at this joke until laughter turns to uneasy chuckling and the audience are unsure of whether to continue laughing or feel sorry.
These two instances sell the show better than any blurb or poster ever could. This isn’t a show for us, it’s a show for Dale-Jones and his ego. He thinks of himself as a modern Robin Hood, here to steal from those he deems to be entitled and undeserving, and give to whoever will praise him the most.
In one of the few times the performer actually talks about anyone other than himself, he spins to his advantage to mention how he gives thousands to charity, how he isn’t making any profit from this show and how we should be ashamed. It’s a huge generalisation to make about any audience, especially your own, and it doesn’t work in his favour. His call to arms falls on deaf ears. We couldn’t care anymore, which is sad because the charity is such a worthwhile cause.
The tickets for the piece are described as “modestly priced” and “well below market value”, which already tells you about the kind of pedestal this performer thinks he stands on before the show even begins. The cost is there to cover Dale-Jones expenses, anything else is given away. While this is truly a lovely gesture, when you think of how much of the show was about himself rather than the work of Street Child United (the charity in question), you’re unsure as to why this piece exists.
Instead, you feel you’d have much rather watched a short PowerPoint and have been better informed about the charity, then donated the entire ticket cost directly instead. You probably would have felt better about doing that too. It’s evident that Shón Dale-Jones does.
Runs until 4 November 2017 | Image: Contributed