We all know what it feels like to be in lockdown. Individual circumstances have been very different—while we may have been bobbing about in the same sea, we haven’t all been in the same boat—but we have experienced something similar at the same time. That kind of collective experience is unusual.
Shon Dale-Jones plays on that shared experience in Possible, an online piece created for National Theatre Wales, which is livestreamed from Newport’s Riverside Theatre until Friday, and then available on demand next week.
Possible is a storytelling riff on lockdown that encompasses birth and death, moving house and other life-changing events, and which looks back as well as forward. It is soaked in anxiety and love, and it comes with jaunty and witty live musical accompaniment courtesy of John Biddle.
John Biddle and Shon Dale-Jones perform Possible. Photo: Jorge Lizarde
If the pandemic has made many of us reassess our lives, one of the things that Possible does is to show how it can suddenly make us reassess the past. The show unfolds against a backdrop of family WhatsApp groups and messages, including one between siblings discussing whether their elderly mum’s penchant for making scones after midnight is a sign she should be in a home, and a darker strand about Dale Jones’ memories of an incident that took place when he was at boarding school aged 13. The mix of narrative tones is deliberately jarring and that makes it all the more intriguing and slippery, much like memory itself. This 65-minutes is sometimes funny, occasionally dreamlike and often nightmarish.
It may well be many years before the great pieces of theatre that capture the era of Coronavirus properly emerge, but like Bo Burnham’s Netflix Special Inside, this captures a precise moment with sharp clarity. In using his storytelling skills to tell us what it has been like for him, Dale-Jones make us consider more deeply what the last year has been like for us.
Possible is available live online until July 2, and then on demand from Tuesday next week.