The Duke (4 stars)

This article is from 2016

The Duke

credit: Brian Roberts

Immediately likeable storytelling from Shȏn Dale-Jones

How much are good manners worth? Shȏn Dale-Jones's manners would be quite valuable. After plenty of 'welcomes' and 'thank-you-for-comings', his etiquette even extends to sincerely thanking the one audience member who (foolishly) chose to slip out of his one-man show The Duke early. This amiable atmosphere is essential for the type of storytelling that Dale-Jones excels at: a radio-like hour of pure text and homespun sound effects.

In 1974, Dale-Jones' father bought a porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington for £750. It would be worth a pretty penny in today's money, save for the fact his widowed mother has just knocked it off the mantelpiece. She relays this news to her son over the phone while he is listening to a radio report about the refugee crisis, and also trying to face up to the umpteenth rewrite of a potentially lucrative film script, ten years in the making.

The subsequent narrative is engaging and complex, existing somewhere between truth and fiction, drama and radio, fantasy and reality. Dale-Jones is a natural and immediately likeable storyteller, knowing exactly which details to embellish and which to gloss over. He returns frequently to the idea of value: how much is a complete set of porcelain figures worth? Or a film script that is by now only vaguely familiar to him? Or a refugee's seat on a boat across the Aegean Sea?

This whole show is Dale-Jones' way of doing something concrete and useful to aid those in need. Of course, Dale-Jones could have charged a tenner a ticket and given it all to his chosen charity, Save the Children. Instead, he prefers to stand outside the venue with a bucket, looking you square in the eye as he politely shakes your hand and asks you to dig deep. Very valuable manners indeed.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug (not 15), 3.30pm, free but ticketed.

The Duke

  • 4 stars

Hoipolloi, PBJ Management, Theatre Royal Plymouth with Save The Children As I sat, coming to the frightening realisation that the script I'd been writing for ten years no longer fit in a world that was spiralling out of control, my mother called to tell me the Duke of Wellington, a porcelain figure my father bought for…