Still Floating - Theatre Royal Plymouth - Review
Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe, performer and producer Shôn Dale-Jones brings ‘Still Floating’ to the Theatre Royal Plymouth, revisiting his award-winning show ‘Floating’ from 2006 and twisting it with a present day tale of returning home and exploring how things have changed.
In 2006, Dale-Jones played his on-stage alter ego Hugh Hughes in ‘Floating’, telling the surreal and comical tale of Anglesey floating away from the mainland, becoming an independent land under the rule of a strict and power-hungry headmaster. ‘Still Floating’ looks back at the show, flying through it at a rapid rate as Dale-Jones both thinks about an invitation to restage the show in a post Brexit world and how his own experiences of returning to Anglesey posed the question of feeling at home.
With a running time of just over an hour, a lot is crammed in. The tale of Anglesey is flown through, split by jumping back and forth between the interconnected stories, meaning that it can become a little bit confusing at times. The lines between fiction and reality are blurred throughout, in both sides of the show. The fictional out there tale of a community turning their island into a giant boat, scattered with tales of the legends around Anglesey lake and holiday homes, create a fast paced blur.
From the tale of his childhood best friend’s German wife moving back to Berlin because she no longer feels at home in the UK acting to illustrate the breakaway from the European Union, combined with the idea of a pub having two televisions, one showing coverage of the war in Ukraine and the second showing Love Island, Dale-Jones tries to touch upon a lot of political points to illustrate how our lives have long been impacted by the decisions of others. Some topics are fleshed out a fair deal, whilst others are mentioned a few times but never fully explored, such as the idea of young couples living in caravans over the winter whilst many houses being used as holiday homes lay empty.
Dale-Jones keeps the audience engaged as he flicks between stories and ideas, mixing comedy with sadder moments of his mother’s health and his best friends’ feelings of losing connection and a sense of home. Some small sketches, such as wearing a cardboard box to symbolise disorientation and a throwbacks to workshop content, whilst funny, don’t really fit with the narrative.
Overall, ‘Still Floating’ is an entertaining and interesting exploration of the feeling of home and belonging, exploring how people’s view of someone can change depending on their behaviour towards their homeland and how leaving can sometimes blur the lines between reality and fiction in someone’s thoughts of branching out to somewhere new. The speed of it all can be a little confusing at times, but I believe that was perhaps the intention, to blur those lines and leave the audience with some questions.