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In Hugh's world imagination and dreams invade our memories

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

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How sweet it is in this troubled world to escape to another time, another place, another person. So, welcome back, Hugh Hughes for another insight into your world, Stories From An Invisible Town.

And, this being art, we will learn from Hugh's thoughts a little more about our own.

Audiences from the USA to Russia to Australia have lapped up the tall tales and musings of the "emerging Welsh artist" since 2004. His Floating, Story of a Rabbit and 360 have drifted in, hopped aboard and revolved around the Theatre Royal Plymouth to the delight of the crowd in the second space, the Drum.

Now, after years of being the man behind Hugh, his creator has emerged: Shon Dale-Jones.

Shon and company Hoilpolloi have charmed with stories of and from the boy and man from Llangefni, picked up Edinburgh Fringe awards along the way.

It's about the inner child emerging to remind that there is likewise within us all. From the mouths of children and innocents can come wisdom, too.

Some still apparently believe that Hugh is real, though. So why break the spell now?

"At the start that ambiguity was needed," says Shon. "We needed people to believe that he was a real person.

"To keep that up today would be impossible. Maybe it is quite fun to use that, the idea that some know, some are not sure and some do not know."

Moving on from that, Shon quotes on his website the Spanish surrealist film director, Luis Bunuel: "Our imaginations and our dreams are forever invading our memories and since we are apt to believe in the reality of our fantasies, we end up transforming our lies into truths."

Shon adds: "How real is the world? How much do our memories and perception flavour our world?"

So with that in mind, feel free to immerse back in Hugh's world by visiting www.invisibletownstories.co.uk before seeing the new stage piece. The website wanders and meanders through memories inspired by Hugh's return to his childhood home to help his mother move house.

It is a funny and sometimes melancholy ride, often in surprising places. What ought to be a straight laugh is a little sad – as when you wish that Hugh and his sister and brother would be rather less grown-up, and enjoy the child within their father. The story of his dad falling asleep at the wheel ought to be alarming but hangs, half-told, in the air.

Which begs the question about how much of Hugh is Shon.

They are both from Anglesey (the island which drifted off and took a world tour in Floating), for starters.

His father was a greengrocer and there was a genuine risk of falling asleep on the long drive from North Wales to Liverpool market in the early hours.

"My mum would sometimes send me and my brothers in the car with him to stop him falling asleep," says Shon. Another scary thought: that most of the family might have been wiped out.

And does the journey – the psychological one – ever go the other way: does Hugh work into Shon?

"It would be quite appalling if I kept on doing it (being Hugh).

"But I do sometimes think 'what would Hugh think about that?

"He is such an optimist. There is quite a lot of pleasure to be had in him."

Stories From An Invisible Town is at the Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth from Tuesday to Saturday next week (box office: 01752 267222 or online at www.theatreroyal.com/stories).

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