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Floating, by Hugh Hughes

Friday, 15 October, 2010

Child-like energy

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival 2010 – Smock Alley Studio, Exchange St Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 – 6.00pm on October 14, 1.00pm matinee on October 16-17 (all shows 90 minutes)

 

This zany and whimsical, yet highly entertaining and engaging show consists of the unflappable Hugh Hughes – and his able assistant, Sioned Rowlands – telling the magical story of how Hughes’ native island of Anglesey floated away from its ancient mooring off Wales into the Atlantic Ocean.

Hughes’ exuberant manner is reminiscent of a show for children, but somehow avoids being patronising, even though most of the audience are adults.  Perhaps this is because of a certain wicked wit that sparks occasionally through the joyful and overwhelming positive style of both performers.  Hughes’ style is not unlike that of a standup comic, interacting fearlessly with his audience – although he doesn’t fall into the standard format of buildup and punchline but adopts a storytelling approach.

The show makes fun of theatre’s pretensions at subtlety, by explaining everything up front, even to the extent of listing the sections of the show on a board, setting out all the backstage mechanics and at one point discussing a trip to the dressing-room for a lost prop!

While this lack of pretension is refreshing at first, at one stage in earlier part of the show it feels as if he is ‘overexplaining’ and he should simply get on with the story of Anglesey’s extraordinary voyage, which is a strong enough storyline on its own.

Once the main story begins, the full gamut of multimedia presentations and special effects are used to delightful effect, animated by the boundless energy of both performers.

The rural innocence of Hughes’ Anglesey origins permeate the show.  However, his attempt to leave the island is the immediate cause of its departure from the Irish Sea, to prevent him from escaping.

This brings us to the central theme of the show, which is the paradox of being connected to one’s birthplace, but also disconnected from it once one’s own identity is established – a conclusion that Hughes characteristically sets out in a matter-of-fact manner at the end of the show.

Cast Credits: Performers – Hugh Hughes, Sioned Rowlands.

Company Credits: Created by – Hugh Hughes and friends; Artistic Associates – Shôn Dale-Jones, Jill Norman, David Pagan, Stefanie Müller, Richard Couldrey, Alex Byrne, Guy Myhill, David Ralfe, Rich Rusk & Dante Rendle Traynor; Production and Technical Manager – Tom Cotterill; (following names for Hoipolloi): Artistic Director – Shôn Dale-Jones; Associate Director – Stefanie Müller; Producer – Simon Bedford; Finance Manager – Sylvia O’Dell; Development Associate – Rachel Parslew; Theatre Producers – Emma Dunton, Roger Nelson; Intern – Richard Watson; Press Agent – Nancy Poole; Production Photography – John Baucher, Geraint Lewis & Jaimie Gramston.

(c) Colman Higgins 2010

Reviewed 14 October 2010

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