The Pit, London EC2
Opened 19 June
, 2007

At its simplest the core element of theatre, the factor that makes every performance unique and special, is that audience and performers have come together in the same space and time and left the rest of the world outside. Except, of course, that we can't truly do that: we all have our own respective baggages, and make our own connections and disconnections, decisions and choices simply in the process of watching a work. It might seem odd to create a performance piece about this relationship. It is certainly bizarre to do so by employing a story about the alleged occasion in 1982 when the island of Anglesey broke free from its wonted position north-west of Wales and floated around the north Atlantic all but unnoticed while the world was watching the Falkland Islands instead.

Hoipolloi's delightful, touching assemblage was the very last show I saw on last year's Edinburgh Fringe, regretting that I could not then give it the glowing write-up it deserved. It is a truism that much work which seems outstanding in an Edinburgh context founders when re-viewed with a cooler head elsewhere; I am overjoyed that this is not the case with Floating. The company have found the perfect frontman for their whimsical, slightly sentimental perspective in performance artist Hugh Hughes (who is in fact an alter ego of artistic director Shôn Dale-Jones); Hughes says this show has been 13 years in the making, which is as long as Hoipolloi have been in existence.

With the aid of Sioned Rowlands (who may or may not be a similar invention – it doesn't matter) and a range of media from flipchart to PowerPoint presentation, from video projection to a hand-held slide viewer passed round the audience, Hughes builds an amazing bond with us as he tells his tale. He works the room with the skill of a top-flight comedian, but utterly without malice. We feel an integral part of an unrepeatable moment, as we join Hughes and Anglesey on their journeys and contemplate those we have made ourselves. One of the rarest sensations in a theatre is the feeling that one has made real friends with a performer.

Written for the Financial Times.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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