Edinburgh review: Me and Robin Hood (Pleasance Dome)

The Welsh storyteller turns his sights on the financial industry and everyone’s favourite legend

Shon Dale Jones in Me and Robin Hood
Shon Dale Jones in Me and Robin Hood
© Brian Roberts

Shon Dale-Jones‘ show is about money: who gets it and who gets to control it, what it’s really worth and how we might best use it. He’s halved the ticket price to £5 so it just covers costs, in the hope audiences will donate the other fiver – plus, ideally, their own contribution on top – to the charity Street Child at the end. It’s obviously a very good use for your cash, and the show is a rare instance of an artist genuinely putting their money where their mouth is.

Me and Robin Hood is also about stories: those that shape us, shape our society. Those we tell others about the shape of our own selves, those we like to tell ourselves. These stories may not be very stable, Dale-Jones implies. Money itself "is a fiction" – we all just agree to invest these bits of paper and metal with worth, we let the bankers tell their meta-narrative of value and profit, let capitalism divide our world into haves and have-nots.

Me and Robin Hood is also itself not a terribly stable story: with the relaxed, chatting-to-the-audience vibe of a stand-up, Dale-Jones performs as himself, but how much is ‘true’ is anyone’s guess. He begins with a bad day: on the way to doing a show so small he’ll only get paid £50, he gets fined the same amount for sitting in a first class train carriage. That segues into an angry, impromptu protest against the banks, Dale-Jones holding up an invitation to passers-by to join him in robbing one. This is interspersed with the story of that most famous of wealth-redistributors, Robin Hood, a hero of Dale-Jones’ as a child. He was inspired to actually try to rob a bank in his hometown of Llangefni on Anglesey when he was 10, taking his football team with him.

How that played out is just one of many elements of the story that is told and retold here, Dale-Jones spiraling inside his narrative, playing with what he wants it to be and what ‘really’ happened. Relationships with a socialist grandmother, a Thatcher-loving father, and a best mate called Dylan are also excavated. There’s also some deft dancing around the concept of that ultimate privilege, ‘opportunity’: who gets it, what buys it, if real opportunities for change come from collective action or individual good fortune.

There’s lots to enjoy in this slippery story: even fuelled by rage at the inequality of our world, Dale-Jones is a hugely warm and appealing figure, and an hour listening to him spin a yarn is time (and, yes, money) well spent. The show’s clever construction keeps your brain ticking to keep up. But Me and Robin Hood also feels like it might be building to something bigger than it ever quite manages. You’d have to be hard-hearted indeed not to dig in your pockets afterwards and donate to charity, but it doesn’t quite achieve the – admittedly absurdly mammoth task – of rewriting the story of money.

Me and Robin Hood runs at the Pleasance Dome until 27 August, and tours until November.

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