The Wonderful World of Hugh Hughes - Floating (Plymouth)
Kicking off with Edinburgh Fringe award –winning Floating, Hoi Polloi’s first outing with Shon Dale-Jones’s alter ego Hughes back in 2006, the audience was packed in and ready for a fun night.
Charismatic Hughes lived up to expectations (my second encounter) and his brilliant collaborative partner Sioned Rowlands frantically dashed about playing Nain, Mr Morgan and Gareth as well as providing sound and other effects, operating the ancient ‘multimedia’ (including overhead projector) and providing personal best simulated swimming.
Floating takes us to the island of Anglesey in 1982 as Hughes is planning on sneaking away from home. Just as he sets foot on the Menai Bridge, an earthquake severs the island from mainland Wales and casts it adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.
There follows a somewhat chaotic reconstruction of the islands’ journey past Ireland and Cornwall and up to the Arctic Circle. Despite the helpful diagrams and the designated audience member clocking the stages, I was, for the most part, totally confused as to where we were (and why).
Hughes’s attempts to escape – most hilariously in Speedos and an orange harness (the fruit not the colour) – but is thwarted by the current (tidal stream not the fruit) and his old headmaster who is captaining the breakaway land and exerting his dictatorial influence.
The duo’s enthusiasm is infectious. Drawn in by passing around Nain’s wrestling magazines and a slide of the elderly lady herself, the audience is part and parcel of Hughes’s production.
Hughes is always good value. I wouldn’t have missed this and certain images and moments will stay in the memory for a long time although I can’t say I would put it on my ‘to see again list’ whereas I intend to catch 360 again if I can make it on Saturday.