Monday 28 November 2016
Theatre review: The Duke
At the time he's preoccupied with writing a film version of his show Floating in which the Isle of Anglesey comes loose and floats around the Atlantic; he's meant to be doing extensive rewrites that'll see the project green-lit, but instead ends up on a treasure hunt to try and find a replacement figurine.
Although not quite on the level of a Hugh Hughes story that would spin off into actual magic, The Duke still goes into the realms of fantasy in a story full of extreme coincidence that enjoys blurring the lines between reality and the way Shôn imagines the story might have gone. The theme of refugees is actually only mentioned a couple of times in the whole show, as overheard news reports mention people drowning in the Mediterranean. They're abrupt intrusions into the story, a reminder that some realities can't or shouldn't be ignored, even as we're off on a strange road trip chasing a porcelain figurine. And the idea of how much people might have paid for a dangerous escape ties into the idea of figuring out the worth of things, as Shôn balances his soul-destroying but lucrative rewrites against wanting to keep his lonely mother happy; and finally the audience are asked to weigh in with what we think the show's worth in our charity donations. It's a bit rough around the edges but The Duke still shows Dale-Jones' characteristic warmth and whimsy even in the face of dark concerns.
The Duke by Shôn Dale-Jones is booking in repertory until the 2nd of December at the Royal Court's Jerwood Theatre Upstairs (returns only) and from the 15th to the 17th of December at The Pit.
Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes straight through.
Photo credit: Brian Roberts.