The legend of Robin Hood is the most famous story about the distribution and redistribution of wealth – robbing from the rich to give to the poor. And that is why he is the central character of this show, Me and Robin Hood, written and performed by Shôn Dale-Jones, in which he looks at the story of money and the inequality that has resulted from it. A fundraiser for the charity Street Child United, all tickets are priced at £10, in the hopes that audience members will donate the rest of the normal ticket price (or more) to the charity. The startling statistic that 150 million children live on the street worldwide is thrown at the audience and makes us stop in anger at this injustice. But the show doesn’t pelt us with cold, hard facts. Most of it is rather chatty, informal stories – Dale-Jones sets the tone by greeting audience members as they enter, and there is a sense of closeness in his interactions with the audience, strengthened by the intimacy of the space. Barely larger than a normal room and with an empty stage, the show often feels more like a chat than a piece of theatre.
Dale-Jones introduces himself as a lover of stories, and it is his storytelling here that makes the show so enjoyable. He jumps between the present, his childhood in 1970s Wales, and the twelfth century, and goes back and rewrites the stories he has just told so that it becomes hard to tell how much of what he says is fiction. But given that Robin Hood himself is fictional, you get the feeling that the ‘truth’ of his stories – including an impressive amount of bank robbery – is not that important. Their message, one of solidarity and support in the community, is what counts. Alongside the Robin Hood image is one about football, unsurprisingly since Street Child United uses sport to help street children. Comparing the teamwork involved in a game of football with the importance of sharing and giving others opportunity, Dale-Jones contrasts these simple childhood joys with the cold story of capitalism – the story which is currently winning. His intense fury at this becomes quite uncomfortable at times, but he is making the point that it ought to be uncomfortable, because we are part of the injustice.
Dale-Jones does not manage to change the story of money with this show, which is one of his aims, but he does make an impassioned and effective appeal on behalf of Street Child United – an appeal which it is hard to argue against. Me and Robin Hood asks a lot of questions about money, privilege and community and definitely makes you think, but in spite of its serious subject matter it is highly enjoyable. The discomfort we feel while watching Dale-Jones’s anger, both verbal and physical, is offset by his warmth. This is obviously a cause he cares deeply about, and his passion is catching.
Me and Robin Hood is playing at Royal Court until September 16, then touring.
Photo: Murdo Macleod