An Interview With Daniel Donnelly


At this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Daniel Donnelly was the veritable captain of the Mumble’s skeleton crew


Hello Daniel, so where are you from & where do you reside today?
I have a little tale to tell about said upbringing. I was born in Glasgow’ West End, moved to Erskine till 2 (I swear I can remember this), lived from 2 till 9 in London and wound up before I knew it in a little plush village in the East Netherlands. At the time it felt like we had struck gold. The whole (though short) saga all came about as my father followed his work around. In London we lived in Hammersmith, a short walk from the prison Wormwood scrubs. I definitely remember walking to school.

My sister was born into an already full house of three children, I was two when she was born and I do remember that. The family split in Holland so after a time we left to retreat back to Glasgow where I have been ever since.

I am residing in York hill, a Glasgow West End location where I have been for many years. its an original tenement flat with high ceiling’s and spacious rooms not far from City Centre and the deeper West End.

You’ve almost single handedly reviewed the Edinburgh Fringe for the Mumble in 2021 – what’s it feel like to be the backbone of a skeleton crew?
I didn’t realise that my Fringe efforts would be singled out like this as a back bone, but being part of a skeleton crew has handed me another aspect of the refreshing business of reviewing theatre and really enjoying the fringe. In many ways things are normal with plenty to do and see. But it hit home at the normally packed Pleasance Court yards where there were only two food shacks, the pub was closed and there was no one standing in a busy crowd, there was something profound about that.

But working online and at home has its advantages too. So far I have come across some truly awesome pieces of work from a very talented public. In works that far exceed expectations that have become exemplary. Finding venues, planning times the days have been full from coffee in the morning to making the right bus times.

It is an overall great feeling to be taking what little part I have at the Fringe as a reviewer, and has always been like that. But when you get to Edinburgh for this one the extent of Princess Street being empty of performers of all kinds and any kinds was strange. It didn’t feel depressing but it reminded me of the fragility of the festival. From taking it in the idea of a back bone and skeleton crew has taken on a special meaning like keeping the embers alight to wait for the fire to burn again.

What is the online experience like as a reviewer?
We were half way into the unprecedented national and international lockdown. I was scared of getting too fat so I attempting online work outs and Tai chi and spent some time on my bike cycling through forests in the Kelvin Grove park Glasgow, The adventure continued. I was contacted by my favourite online review company called the Mumble, asking me to cover the 2021 Celtic Connections.

So in this insipid mood my online reviewing journey had commenced, after several online festivals my world was to be expanded, big time. It was a weird difference at a weird time but so far as I can see a new and abundant media was born from it. But many things were the same with great music, passionate performances and a double helping of gratitude that finally some kind of festival had returned to Glasgow in the form of the international connections scene.

I didn’t realise it at the time but the connections online experience was my wheels being oiled for a fascinating year; Even though our freedoms were restricted. I have covered some roughly 4 or 5 online festivals in 2021. There was a magic particularly in the zoom meetings that centred each festival. I took an informal education that kind of crept up on me. I watched so much and wrote so much it wold have been impossible not to come out having learned something, I felt larger, deeper and to a great extent that I was part of something all along.

What have been your favorite shows – online & in person?
My enthusiasm was raised in a different way from being there in person. I say this because being there has the same effect only in a completely different way. I think we all relaxed, performance and audience, to a widening extent very much making lemonade out of lemons. The qualities and levels of writing and performance were no less real and fantastic perhaps even finding new edges for theatre, poetry any kind of performance really.

I was so involved due to the online circumstance to a degree where great joy was around every digital corner. We were all in a state of happiness with gratitude that was woven into proceedings. I found very few problems with it but that was because of the exemplary organisation that were of a different level, I think they simply dove in at the deep end where I was happy to follow.

Not being part of a crowd or audience was obviously the weirdest and strangest of things. I felt like I was in some kind of new position, self reflecting on myself self sitting at the computer. Really it was a kind of out of body experience when I recall my sensations. And that was what it was; a sensation of huge inclusivity, really like connecting with nature herself. an invaluable experience that made movies of everything solo to ensemble.

So Daniel! I hear you’ve started composing poetry alongside your excellent prose – can you show us anything?
Sure, these lines are the fruits of my literary expansion


Open up in the case of love, let leaves move us
Evenings cascade, sweet in the box of summer love
Let dreams drip from you, into a slip stream
And cavalcade for a new announcement

Take care there sweet love
So that thee may broaden the outcast
And treble the frontier
Sweet swift kiss of love
Dance in the moonlight mud

Hold open thou cast of breaches, when walking we…
To clasp the power in your held hand, dip in and swim sound
Freedoms hair, blowin’ made more done
This love can unite everything, take it in

Take care there sweet love
So that thee may broaden the outcast
And treble the frontier
Sweet swift kiss of love
Dance in the moonlight mud

Clothes fall to the floor, and feet caress the ground
The numbers count, to deliver everything
A smile on our mind, as water hit by lights
Can hold us together, we hot friends

Take care there sweet love
So that thee may broaden the outcast

And treble the frontier
Sweet swift kiss of love
Dance in the moonlight flood

Of wisdoms concept, speedy energy
But meant for this, with a wholesome step
The mother of earth, she can wear us
As we without, find ourselves close
As our work shimmers into morning and dusk


So back to reviewing. Can you tell us about your own individual review process – both live & streaming?
In the beginning the review process centred around getting bums on seats, this alone was enough to motivate my creative flows. The idea of theatre has always interested me so in the first days at the Edinburgh Fringe I was excited and really ready to go. It was an Annie Lennox tribute gig and the words started forming in my head of what I would want to write. I’m very thankful that I could just turn up and write with Demo’s words of ‘just write whatever you want’, which also became a slogan for me. Being left to myself was a big plus for me.

I enjoyed it from the word go and fast forward 5 or 6 years I can see my progress and process’s are something I can relish in still with a clear view of how I want to write, finding the right things to talk about, I attend each show well in time, but happily with Theatre prep there’s always a good chance that as a member of the audience we never really know the journey we are about to take.

My love of actors has been increased as I over time delved deeper into their very hard working worlds. It’s important to try and research for every show, I have gladly reviewed a variety of mediums, of theatre and music. In my early orchestra or classical concerts I realized I had a lot to learn but was up for the challenge. figuring out movements, skills, always I have been aware of venues that can be the centre for plays to specific venues.

What advice to you have for anyone reviewing a show?
If you are looking to review I would just say all you need is an opportunity. You are probably already a great writer. When you get that opportunity, relax because you know way more than you think. I have found that preparation has been a wonderful tool to make me expandingly efficient but this may not work for you. Give yourself time to find your own flow, There will be joy there will be heart ache but don’t give up because you could be the next revered reviewer becoming in demand. The the rewards really kick in and there is a tremendous sense of belonging, but if you keep that to yourself you will reach another stage and level for yourself as part of this community.

Posted on September 22, 2021, in 2021. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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