Category Archives: 2022


The Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
25th November – 30th December

As you might have guessed the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh is my fave theatre in the whole world. As I entered the venue and found my seat, I was sat next to a chap called Tom. I recognised Tom. We had both reviewed a musical in Pitlochry back in 2014 – it’s nice to meet other writers. Tom is doing another 6 pantos next week.

The Brunton’s main theatre was packed with little people, Mums and Dads and Nannas and Grandads. Everyone was totally up for it – Sinbad is an all-singing, all-dancing love story packed with adventure, romance, action and comedy. All performers have been locally sourced, from The Brunton’s very own Dance and theatre company. the supporting dancers were all under 10 years of age and they all did a really good job. brilliant choreography was expertly performed. Sinbad has lots of audience participation with more “She’s behind yous” and “Oh no she’s not, Oh yes she is” than one could shake a stick at.

A pantomime dame called Betty (Sinbad’s mother), Cuddles the Cat, a Fairy Godmother and Rosie (who has a crush on Sinbad) join Sinbad on a cruise of a lifetime on the back of a whale. Because a wicked witch, who happens to be Sinbad’s future Mother-in-Law, is increasing rents in Fisher Row (boo!) So, they set sail across the Firth of Forth in search of fortune, and love… confronting mythical sea creatures in death-defying battles along the way. All brought to life with simple stage props, expert lighting and a very talented cast indeed.

With beautifully performed songs sung throughout this is fully engaging family fun. Every one had a very good time indeed. With a much-needed joyful ending, the whole audience was beaming with softened hearts. ‘Aye Aye Captain,’ Sinbad is glamourous and glitzy, the perfect antidote to the winter blues. So it’s all aboard the good ship Brunton… get your tickets now for a heartwarming adventure of a lifetime.
Sinbad is a winner.

Review: Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert


Written And Directed by John Binnie

Cast In Order of Appearance
Sinbad: Calum Barbour
Cuddles Nine-Lives: Ross Donnachie
Rosie: Eilidh Weir
Moneygrabba / Pirate Queen / Island Witch / Roc Bird: Wendy Seager
Nurse: Isabella Jarrett
Betty Brunton: Graham Crammond
Villager / Sailor / Islander: Poppy Smith.

Orpheus in the Record Shop

Leeds Playhouse
October 13-15, 2022

Leeds is a wonderful example of a self-sustaining, modernizing city. The de facto capital of West Yorkshire, it’s bound to contain & attract a wide variety of talented performers – & of course the odd reviewer to check out what they’re up to. I’m in the latter category, & despite living in Scotland, I was heading down for the Burnley-Swansea game anyway (4-0, top of the league), so I’m like let’s check out the Leeds Playhouse while I’m nestling in the Pennines.

I’d never been before, & on entering for the first time fell instantly enamoured of the space. A proper Athenian ‘Theatre of Dionysus’, with steep’d galleries climbing tall into the cavernous auditorium, overlooking a spacious circular performing space. Yeah, it was great, & the acoustics were wicked. But so much for the tea-take – I think that’s what they call a bread roll in these parts -, what about the filling.

I love my Orpheus, me – he was probably the first western poet, c.1400 BC, & more than likely responsible for the original penning of the Cosmogonies, the Theogonia, & the wonderful Titanomachia. A couple of years ago I even visited the Greek island of Samothraki on some kind of Orphic pilgrimage, where the adolescent Orpheus was supposed to have been shown the lyre for the first time, strung by goat hair, which of course would lead to the empire of the guitar.

I am lonely
I need some serotonin
Somebody phone me

In 2022, however, the empire of the guitar is being challenged by such dazzling devices as the loop-pedal, & the way that the astonishing performer that is local lad, Testament, utilised this device meant the show did exactly what it said on the tin – Orpheus was truly in the house, presenting us with a truly Olympian vocal range with all sorts of stuff going on, from Gregorian chanting to hip-hop where he was rapping & beat boxing at the same time! I even thought of a new word to coin the magic; jawgawp, when you gawp at something with yer jaw hanging out – which I was doing!

All these audio skills are supported by a nifty script & some virtuosic musical performances from a small but tight-as-you-like ensemble of musicians. These came on to the stage one-by-one as the story & the intensity of the music developed, ending in an otherworldly jarring, sparring finale which had the entire audience ovating on our feet.

There’s comedy, there’s warmth, & there’s a proper natural insight into the mechanics of running a record shop. The substory of Testament’s dealings with DJ Vulture was an excellent narrative to plunge into in between the tunes – tho’ the love story not so much. Perhaps this was an allusion to the original Orphean Euridice story, where he tries to bring her back from the dead – in this tale she’s an absent ex-lover -, but it didn’t have the same impact as the rest of the play. Despite that, it’s extremely rare to get a blend of theatrical performance & live gig, where you feel as if you’re experiencing both sensations at the same time, but the hypnotizing mantra that is Orpheus in the Record shop pull’d the concept off magnificently.

Damian Beeson Bullen

Bold Girls

Pic Greg Macvean 23/09/2022 Cumbernauld Theatre Bold Girls dress rehearsal

Cumbernauld Theatre at Lanternhouse
24 September – 1 October, 2022

‘Bold Girls’ was a play on show at the Cumbernauld Theatre Lanternhouse, in the transformed complex. It is a 31 year old play, giving it a stunning success and obvious popularity. It has travelled the breadth of Scotland and far beyond as part of a fearless Theatre taking down censorship of both large and small proportions. The pleasure to be there was in a huge way a good sign of survival in the unbelievable position the world finds itself in at this time.

The play’s premier at The Cumbernauld Theatre was in a town very different today than it was then. Set in 1991 Belfast it has travelled internationally and to great success with sustainability that audiences have lapped up.

The Irish life of that time in Belfast stirred the Theatre into action, with such a lovely tone and accent, things seemed normal in conversation between the 3 family members (though things fell apart). The smart choice of cast brought a very incentive presentation with an organic quality.

The day to day life was tastefully injected making grounds for a story of survival that struck a painful note stirring feelings of compassion in an audience enthralled. The ‘Troubles’ pointed out as all the more potent.

The three characters had different stage appeal that went a long way into setting the right kind of scene. Written by the playwright Rona Munro after an experience there ‘under the troubles’ of which we shouldn’t estimate acts of depravity that communities lived through.

The lucrative stances of life between the girls came from the great negatives circling the times before there was a political will for peace and extreme violence was all too common. They sat together, made tea together but fiercely argued and fought with each other. Very much bringing the tensions of living during the times to the stage with a cutting, shaping and word smith talent that with strength put human fragility on par with the realities of it.

Families who were close were fragmented in a fearful environment that went about teaching the segregation and separation held on both sides as the one true way. Everything in this expert play was to enhance its sorry, crazy circumstance as it used Zen to place props and tables to portray normality alongside the bloody chaos.

It helps to a large extent to find a voice to express itself, then another, then another, Theatre is at its magical best as a tool for giving this voice so as to at least escape silence that the undeniable trauma had come about in the community as seizure after seizure.

The beauty of the play helped hit home the spirit of a need to protect but it is in a world where nothing could be done to alleviate and even halt the well known proceedings. The joys of discussion with regard to normal life, as it is a bold life, with three close ‘Bold Girls’. But the message consisted around the terrible tragedy of war or occupation, entre the stranger Dierdre (Katya Searle) a hard and mysterious role opened up, but only to a recognition of pain.

Nora (Pauline Goldsmith), Marie (Julie Martis), Cassie (Leigh Lothian) and Dierdre performed as an entourage of a sacred beauty and truth, with words of normality that directed the coming outrage incredibly well.

This was a very touching performance with writing to intercept an object nearly impossible to take. The joy was in the overcoming of the human will and spirit, but it was a world imbued with tales of painful cruelty, unfairness and looking back at the heart.

May we through dialogue find the necessary fact that conflict does harm to the greatest human being’s who survive and lives within dysfunctional boarders. I sensed a bond coming from these repeatedly wonderful actors who had a power to then from a most brilliant play stripped of anything but the lives that mattered most being driven down with hard to bear bearings and actions. That will not soon end because of the amazingly distorted actions in an issue that won’t be forgotten.

A well known and loved play, a play to show love being affected in its soft and pliable influence even in a world of threat, and a performance that makes such sense as to send out its message far into space, with a hope so tender as to make your heat full.

Daniel Donnelly

The People Woke Up

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya,the leader of the Belarussian Democratic Movement joins Cabinet Secretary Angus Robertson and the cast of new theatre piece The People Woke Up by ice&fire The actors playing the characters are: Hanna Komar (herself) Mitya Savelau (Dzmitry) Victoria Milham (Galina) Nastasya Korablina (Kira)

Scottish Storytelling Centre
29th Sept, 7.30

We were very warmly welcomed to the stunning play ‘The People Woke Up’ which was an evening organised by the Story telling company Ice& Fire. Working on the basis of its commitments to human rights Ice&Fire are successfully bringing trauma to theatre. In the evenings consort stories were shared as an international Belarusian presence were given a warm and supportive salute from Scotland who seem to be able to step in as a free speaking country which is a help in a big way.

Listening to these true stories of incidents in the ‘Occupied’ Belarus take-over, I found the influence and relationship between Belarus and the UK was of saving grace, urgency was the message. Human rights were focused in the use of theatre, offering great promotional potentials of travelling the globe.

The 4-person panel play of true stories in the events that happened in 2020. As the stories unfolded the message echoed through the room. The sold-out evening (thinking maybe it being better with fewer ears, minds and hearts to change) was to give Belarus a voice as it was hit in 2020 by the shift from democracy for a dictatorship when a rigged election brought about the rise to this elevated position that would last 27 years, for Alexander Lukashenko.

Living through nothing less than a dangerous environment, we realised that every important step towards reunion for Belarus cannot be done in one go after the currents of devastation that seem to have no end to. The force of flight has shown a light of hope for Hanna Komar who is a Belarusian Poet and an exemplary student on PHD status. Of all the four’s stories which were all true but those told by Hanna were of her own account, witnesses one and all.

Things are on this catastrophic level replacing humans with machine’s, unemotional and without mercy; The words of the play, asked for time to allow things like reflection and raising of concerns of very deep thoughts that have culminated into looking towards finding a manifestation for what was termed a collective healing. After being forced upon them it is now their time and place to free its people from the aggression of oppression.

The story goes; at first a great spirit arose in reaction during that year, but the feeling soon turned to the despair. The state of things setting the play to push for help. In the hope of freeing everything that Belarus is, Hanna’s incentive as an activist was suddenly devastated in her surprised realisation that things could go so wrong. It was her who, in a moment of the eye of a storm, noticed that ‘the People Woke Up.’ This evening created a small but soulful cry for all the action now needed with a new platform to express the real education that communities have found at the heart of shock.

This unrequested understanding on everyone’s face’s made possible for people and actions given a placed and time for a performance that had to be of strength to be amazed by, turning action into soothing talk about the disbelief that is now unavoidable.

Belarus sounds like a vibrant, richly cultured destination with a great many things to offer, but aid is now needed from the rest of the world but how do we go about it? At least this little simple gesture of a chance to share is a show of solidarity, to help herald a place in a bad position, but making things change was the highlight of this remarkable play.

Daniel Donnelly

An Interview With Hanna Komar

This week, Actors for Human Rights are bringing ‘The People Woke Up’ to Edinburgh – the Mumble had a chat with its creator

• Hello Hanna, where are you from & where do you live these days?
Hello. I’m from Belarus and I’m currently based in London. I came here to take an MA in Creative Writing on a Chevening Scholarship in September 2021. The idea was to go back home after the year, to bring all the new knowledge, ideas and experience back to my home country. But it’s not safe to return now. So I’m staying to undertake a PhD at the University of Brighton.

• As a poet, would you say there are specific themes or styles that are the key ingredients to Belarusian poetry & which other Belarusian poets do you like?
I think Belarusians are a poetic nation in general. We open up to poetry quite naturally when we encounter it, and we have a lot of great poets, including contemporary ones. Belarusian poetry is diverse, as it should be, I believe. Recently, women’s voices have become especially powerful and distinct. I can make a long list of names that I consider prominent, but sadly, by far not many of them one can find in English translations, and this is the main reason why only so few Belarusian poets are known to the English-speaking audience. Among them, of course, Valzhyna Mort is the most renowned. Julia Cimafiejeva is another important voice, and her English collection “Motherfield” is to be out soon in the USA. Kryscina Banduryna, a strong, uncompromised voice sounding from Belarus, despite all the risks which speaking out poses. These are obviously just a few, but they all have something in common: they write from a feminist perspective on the life in Belarus, reflective of its past and present filled with different forms of violence.

• How do you approach writing poetry yourself?
My approach to writing poetry now is different from what it used to be before the summer 2020. My poetry used to be personal, even intimate, even though it of course reflected the context, the time and place I was living in. Since 2020, I’ve mostly spoken about collective experience. As the repressions at home have been getting worse and worse, I’ve lost my own voice and my own words. I’ve been mostly documenting the collective experience, and I’m grateful for the existence of docu poetry – because it means that I’m not keeping silent, that I still have tools to give voice to those who need it. But actually, I’ve also started writing creative non-fiction, as it gives me more space to tell stories of Belarusians.

• How much involvement do you have with PEN Belarus?
I worked at PEN Belarus, now I’m a member. Of course, I follow their activities, they do very important work not only for the present but for the future. I’m also an honorary member of English PEN. Being part of the community helps to not feel alone and powerless when far away from home.

Demonstrators attend a rally in solidarity with Belarusian opposition supporters, who hold protests to reject the presidential election results, in central Kyiv, Ukraine September 13, 2020. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

• Could you tell us about ‘The People Woke Up, what is the piece all about and what is your involvement with it?
It is a verbatim, which means that you hear the stories of real people told in their own words. Four Belarusians who have been affected by the post-election protests of 2020 in Belarus tell their stories – from the moment they got involved in the protest till present, and we can see them in development, how their lives and their personalities have changed, evolved I’d even say. These voices represent hundreds of thousands other stories.

• Can you tell us about the creative processes involved in making the show?
On my end, when I learnt that Christine Bacon, artistic director of ice&fire was collecting stories, I felt appreciative that in 2022, amidst all the horrible things going on in so many places in the world, and amidst the Russian invasion in Ukraine, someone didn’t simply remember about our fighting, but wanted to amplify our voices. I was interviewed for the script and then Christine invited me to actually read my own story out in Edinburgh. I feel both excited about it, because it’s a new interesting thing for me to do. I’ve performed my poetry loads, but never taken part in a script reading. At the same time, these are all painful memories, and going back to them time after time is not easy. Also, my experience feels almost innocent compared to the others, but I remind myself that if people want to hear it, then it’s meaningful.

Mitya Savelau is acting in the play

• Who else will be performing the piece, and what has it been like sharing your experiences?
The other performers are also from Belarus, and they are also not living there. I haven’t met any of them in person yet, but I look forward to sharing this emotionally charged space of our collective experience.

• Have you performed in Scotland before and what do you like about the country?
I haven’t performed in Scotland before, although I have a little dream of performing my poetry in the Lighthouse bookshop in Edinburgh. And I would like to get to know Scotland better. I had a short tourist visit a few years ago, and I was excited when I heard a group of people in a pub in the village North Berwick speaking Scottish. I even asked to have a photo with them) I think we are somehow similar in the spirit. But also countries which have history of being colonised share some experience. That’s why artistic, academic and this sort of collaborations are so important between us.

• What hopes do you have for some kind the future of Belarus and your freedom of speech there?
I have hopes for a Belarus free from dictatorship and free from the omnipresence of the Russian colonialism in our lives. I know that when freedom of speech is possible in Belarus, it won’t make it a democratic country automatically, and I know there will be not only respectful debates but a lot of fighting over all kinds of things. But I also know that it is vital for humans to be able to speak. To think. To feel. And not be punished for it. A lot of problems can be resolved then, with the help of art in particular. Wounds can be healed.

• Please would you send us two examples of your poetry that you would be happy for us to publish?
These two poems I wrote in August 2020.

We couldn’t find you

that night on autodial
tones like batons
like rubber bullets
directed at you
130,131 . . . long tone
a morning face on concrete
kicked from unconsciousness
three days without food

there’s no answer
to all our
white flowers
and red hearts

human body and memory
withstand injuries
with our belief in the better

we rename the colours
fear, anxiety, mourning
loving, resistance and hope

when it’s over
i will help you paint
these bare walls


Minsk, August 2020

Women’s solidarity chains

there are no flowers
nor tears along the road
only the beeping
from the passing cars

i want to be my body again

neither red nor white or black
not the hands holding reproach
but bare feet walking on grass

i put on a thimble
and pet your hair
i do this to my fingers
imagine my heart

a living woman
neither a battle flag
nor a bud of hope

I want to hear my voice
I want my body back

i must never have
wanted it
so badly

ice&fire present

The People Woke Up

September 28th: Scottish Parliament (17:00)

September 29th: Scottish Storytelling Centre (19.30)

An Interview with Kuniko Kato

One of Japan’s foremost percussionists

Is coming to the Edinburgh Fringe

Hello Kuniko – so where are you from & where do you live at the moment?
Between US and Japan.

Where did you train?
Graduated from Toho Gakuen School of Music under Akira Miyoshi and Keiko Abe.

What do you like to do when you are not performing?
Cook, Yoga, Gym, Walk…

You have performed all across the world, which have been your favourite places to play & why?
UK is definitely my pick other than Estonia, France, etc… since I performed in many different places including small town like Mottisfont, Litchfield, Cheltenham, and also at LINN’s headquarter as well.

You are coming to Edinburgh with two shows this Fringe – can you tell us about them?
This Double Bill concert features Steve REICH, his Counterpoint pieces and one of his signature pieces Drumming using phase shift. All are ensemble pieces but I will play as Live Solo + Tape.

So what was the impulse behind putting on two different shows?
It’s two shows but perhaps the audience can enjoy two concerts as one continuous program since it is the same composer and his signature minimal pieces.

Why Steve Reich – what is your relationship to him & what is it about his music that makes you tick?
When I was in Brussels I performed almost all his pieces with Ensemble ICTUS and the dance company ROSAS and toured Europe. After that I shifted my career toward soloist. Some years later I wanted to perform his pieces in SOLO so I asked Steve and his publisher for official permission to transcribe the pieces for Live Solo + Tape. I simply love his music a lot. They look simple but musically very deep.

What emotions & thoughts do you hope to invoke in your audience through your drumming?
I simply want the audience to enjoy the music and share a good time together. That’s all about it. Today the world has too many unpleasant events..

You know a good show when you have done one, what are the magic ingredients?
I believe I myself enjoy the music and the moment with the audience, that will create the atmosphere for audience to really enjoy it.

What will you be doing in Edinburgh when not promoting & performing your show?
Perhaps eating some good Indian curry, meat pies and may be haggis as well, and possibly want to hear bagpipe and highland drums.

You have 20 seconds to sell your show on the streets of Edinburgh, what do you say?
Please enjoy the groove of Steve Reich together!



La Traviata

Clyde Opera Group
Renfield Centre, Blythswood Hall
Sat/Sun – 30th/31st Aug, 2022

The Clyde Opera Group are a Glasgow – Scotland based Operatic group who are 7 years in the making. Their first ever production happened in 2016 when they brought the project ‘La Boheme’ to the stage. They are involved in all sorts of internationally fired up projects of old and new theatre these are exciting modern times. Very good to see a stage again I settled in with high art on my mind. The Orchestra played a gentle tune to the evening’s Opera called ‘La Traviata’. The air had electricity in it.

Artistic director and producer Roxana Nite expressed her personal joy and relief that returning to the stage was the best thing ever. There had been nothing possible for the 3 year pause on the world. The title ‘La Traviata’ translates as ‘fallen woman’ which was a strong indication of the content to come.

Under this exciting quality the curtains opened to the stage of a ball of monstrous proportions. Act 1 was quickly begun. Giuseppe Verdi wrote this tale as a 3 act piece, the commotion focused on the figure of a woman who lay in fatigue as the loud party around her was enjoyed. The fate of Violetta Valery, performed on another level by Skye Marie Johnson, (an American vocal master) who is compelling in her roles, would soon be met.

There is no denying the growing international Theatrical interest being inspired right now with attentions and collaborations on internet connections and social media. Often for the work done there is a great desire to celebrate; the heights can be revealed through revelry! Such performance for this show had been sourced from across the globe.

The original 1853 Opera was set to a libretto and revolved around the Paris scene of the time (and the most affluent) the uses of classical theatre were evident. When the voices sang together it seemed like something awesome but things are the way they are. The orchestral music moved effortlessly with every turn of event and ballet too was to play its part.

As rich yet poor Violetta nearly passed out from coughing, we found that she was making way into devoting her life and heart to pleasure. Admirer Alfredo Germont, performed by Stephen Calgaro, (another talented American), stepped in to ease her, coming wildly to her his feelings of love raw to absolute bursting. She famously swerved the encounter by drawing attention to something else, but it seemed a seed had been sown in both their hearts.

Opera offers a wide inclusivity and it stands as an art forever relevant, proving itself with something of a remarkable amalgamation of all the genre’s of Theatre especially in the dynamics that occur from following the righteous, unbounded story. Guiding the enacted and active thoughts there came a time for poetry to intervene. Involved in this story were moments where we could feel in a knowing way; that our hearts would be laid bare before the end, hence the weeping at Opera’s.

Language plays a big part; there are puritans on both sides but to follow the story is everything. And the entire Italian dialogue was translated for us into English on a screen. The dialogue was all very passionately down to earth; the acts are always to simply put down steps. For Violetta the inescapable steps involved enduring the end of her love for Alfredo (the love of the Opera)

Swelling in poetry, the tragedy explored with freshness and naivety an unstoppable journey that had commenced. And the world was waiting to put in their bit. Passion and drive showcased a strong woman though through fright she was often unsure of her choices or of her way ahead. When father of Alfredo intervened his words of sacrifice eventual became the destruction that was seemingly always imminent, Violette’s world was deep in love and bent on a choking life of pleasure.

The group, in whose creative powers there was no doubt, made a flux of entertainment. A joy to follow, flowing in and out of strength, beauty and masterful synchronisation of everything from vocal to orchestra to characters who on stage glowed with personalities as big as life; huge in their physical presence and appearance. The group of dancing gypsies (who danced around in finery like Greeks on a vase) were all formal, but for all their revelry they had a bone to pick which was why they were there.

Crazy Barons up to mischief, a personal maid to Violetta (Annina, played by Hanna Minner)and a doctor (Doctor Grenvil, played by Ben Noble) saw her stripped of her lover and her heart she knew would stop beating. In a naively sentimental stir she was well again for her lover Alfredo was there to hold her. She felt strength again leaving for a moment her sickness behind her for to embrace her love again.

The vocals deliver the style to the story; well written and with a mission. By tricks and deflections our heroin is the true voice of the moment many times the whole production fell onto Skye Marie’s shoulders, she led the way fighting every obstacle until she could do no more. Noticing turns of events brought emotions up through those moments that would lead us in every way to a shiver down a spine, in a very beautiful way.

The word love was repeated with grace as it filled or emptied the stage the voice rose and fell. Reality expressed what the truth was and love made a success of life being worth living. Why shouldn’t she be as good as life is? Even details were fascinating and in every situation of Skye Marie’s actions we came across as welcomed into her ordeal; it really looked like she was fading her face changed.

Acting is a marvel; singing and acting, being part of this entertainment we took in a monumental performance of essentially still a young platform from a place of comfort with a greatly heralded return for the darling Clyde Opera Group. They have worked hard and fought hard to accomplish this evening for the professional ‘La Traviate’ capably bringing an intrigue into work’s to come. We followed a great story of great love, languishment and fevered celebration, as inclusive a thing as there is likely to be.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

The Conchordia Folio: Germany

The Moselle Valley

I am definitely the only person on the planet trying to take down Shakespeare. Everyone thinks he’s the best, but I know for a fact my bass-lines are better. To determine who wins will be easy, place the First Folio by my Conchordia Folio & let people decide themselves. That means I have to compose 39 plays – Shakespeare did 37 for sure, but there’s a couple of plays that have his pensmanship incorporated, & 39 is a nicer number 3×13. Whatever happens, however, between the Bard & I we will have recorded a great deal of history in the dramatic form. Shakespeare would have buzzed off being able to write about Napoleon, but unfortunately died two centuries earlier. That’s where I step in…

I am currently in the city of Koblenz, a beautiful spot where the Moselle meets the Rhine, over which corner there is a huge stature of Kaiser Wilhelm I looking towards Berlin I expect. I’ve been availing myself of the 9 euro all-month, train-bus ticket, in order to explore the area.

Concordia Hill over Bad Ems

Bad Ems is the playground of Tsars & Kaisers, a gorgeous spot, over which towers Concordia Hill, which I felt rather appropriate as I watched the sun go down over the spa town. I even wrote a little sonnet;

Tis four & twenty years since I took seat
Oer Portovenere, one long sunset
Where I became a poet, quite a feat,
So much promise slips the Muses’ net,
But I was just so happy then, alive,
A man, a pen, an empty leaf of book,
Those simplet joys that to these hours survive
Atop the steep Concordia, just look!
Bad Ems slithers so beautiful, both sides
Of dreaming Lahn that elegantly glides
Between unbroken woodland hanging oer
This sylvan scene which Tsars & Kaisers saw
& Wagner too, Parsifal composing,
I’ll soon be back, this valley’ll hear me sing!

Not my greatest sonnet. I do sense my poetry needs Conchordia now. Minor sonneteering feels a tad trivial when I have over 20 conchords to write. Hopefully by the time I’m fifty, by the way, which works out one of every couple of months. Very doable if I’m very dedicated.


Returning to Germany, on the day of the great heatwave (unless you live in India), from Koblenz towards the west winds the Moselle – so stunning a gorge of greenery & curves & cute little towns – to Trier, another spectacular city, possibly the oldest in Europe & the de facto operational Roman HQ for NW Europe. It was there that I’ve found my 38th subject for a conchord, the witch trials of the late 1580s ran by Jesuits. The devil was clearly work in those days & the whole story should make a gripping watch. Its going to be called DIETRICH or DIETRICH FLADE, after one of the Witch-hunters whose story is the most interesting. After returning to Koblenz I lunched, siestaed, then caught a train to Mainz & back gushing over the Rhine gorge, drinking rose wine, which I finished off sipping as I wandered the very beautiful old town of Koblenz.

The last time I was abroad I was in Malta, December 2020, completing the 13th conchord of the Conchordia Folio, The Siege of Gozo. So what’s happen’d since? Well, I’m still on Arran, where I did write an update in February setting out my plans. I did manage to complete the first part of the Madchester trilogy, which I’ve made available to buy in ‘quarto’ form so to speak, as will the rest over the coming months.

There’s been some evolutions since then, including the setting of the final 39 concords (bar one). These neatly fit into 3 blocks of 7 separate conchords follow’d by a sexology block of connected concords. Three acts if you will, which in chronological order appear as (completed conchords in bold type)

The King & The Spider
The Siege of Gozo
Deitrich Flade
The Siege of Vellore


The Flight of the White Eagles
900 Days
Paradise of Exiles

Stars & Stripes
The Savoyards
In a Man’s Garden
Exes & Axes
Black Watch Brodick
The Day of the Gryphon
Gaston Dominici


Float Like A Butterfly
Sting Like A Bee
Fight of the Century
Sunshine Showdown

Rumble in the Jungle
Thriller in Manilla

Madchester: The Gathering
Madchester: Ascension
Madchester: The Come Down
The Rock & Roll Apocalypse
Fairy Wonderland
Little Black Book


Tinky Disco
No Nay Never

Cold Turkey

I am currently composing Atahuallpa, the story of the last Incan King & his defeat by Don Pizarro. Cool constumes will abound with this one, & the story’s guest. I’ll also be working on the Savoyards at the same time, the story of Gilbert & Sullivan’s creation of the Mikada. It’ll be something of a G&S light opera about Gilbert & Sullivan themselves. I’m also converting Black Watch Brodick, my epic ballad cycle, into an actual conchordia, one which I’ll be presenting this armistice day.

The Edinburgh Fringe is on the horizon, which I’ll be reviewing & running the Mumble, but at the same time working on several conchords at once, including the finalisations of Rock & Roll Apocalypse – which might be a dream by Bez – & Exes & Axes. The latter I’ll be sitting in Navarenx, southern France, where I’ll be visiting on a drive to Portugal after the Fringe… watch this space.

Damian Beeson Bullen

An Interview With The Vickers Brothers

Two of Edinburgh’s most talented siblings

Are combining for the Fringe 2022…

The Mumble got ’em round for a cuppa

Hello Paul, for this year’s Fringe you are premiering a new play called What Broke David Lynch ? On at 9pm, Greenside @ Nicolson Square, Fern Studio. You have also enlisted some familial support for the project – who is this gentleman with you?
Well, he’s my brother isn’t he. He was good in The Caucasian Chalk Circle when he was at school and he appears to still have it. He can certainly remember his lines – he already has them down or so he tells me.

Is that right Steve? You have experience treading the boards, or at least remembering your lines – can you tell us about your acting career thus far?
Well, acting was many of my artistic ambitions in my youth. I appeared in many school productions and even got an award for my contribution. I was generally cast as the comic lead. I was in the local youth theatre for a while too. I did Theatre Studies at A level with the ambition of getting in to RADA but then I got into rock and roll and that kind of put a spanner in the works. I did get a small part in a reconstruction on 999 emergency but that was as far as my professional acting career went. I’ve occasionally dabbled since. I was in a Leeds amateur dramatics society and I even appeared in a few productions by a certain Damian Bullen but music has largely been my priority in my later life. Although I have often starred in my own slightly crude home made music videos.

Paul, what about your own acting career?
Well I’ve only appeared as actor in my own productions really, I enjoy a challenge of something new, my one man Twonkey shows can only take you so far, I’m trying to push myself. Jennifer’s Robot Arm was my first theatre show and this is the follow up, pleased to have Miranda onboard she was magical as Jennifer and I’m sure she will shine again in this show.

Can you tell us about the show?
Never you mind about that lad.

Oh go on!
Well, if you insist! The play focues on a period in David Lynch’s life where he was trying to develop a suit for the Elephant Man. He’d moved to London & he was in a flat in Wembley & he’d been given a certain amount of development time. They believed that because he’d made the baby in Eraserhead it would be possible for him to construct a costume for the Elephant Man. But this proved to be a step too far for him, and he was unable to complete the task. Its kind of about how that affeceted him psychologically & how eventually he was able to see a way thro’ the problem & find some kind of resolution. But it’s also about the pressure of a young American director coming to London to make Victorian costume drama with Shakespearean actors.

That is interesting – where & when was the catalytic moment where you decided you just HAD to turn this into a play.
I could just hear the dialogue – I could see the situations & also the idea of the moment where the terible costume is put on John Hurt & they realsied that the experiment has essentially been a disaster. I think that’s a manic moment & there was a also a dramtic point where David Lynch realised that he could direct the Elephant Man – apparently it was when he was at the Frederic Treves hospital & as he was looking down one of the corridors at all the gaslight fittings he could suddenly imagine the whole film – he could see how it would be, the atmosphere, he could see the mix of the hard industrial stuff & how he could tell the story. Its kind of about the fall he had before getting ultimate clarity, which enabled him to make the film. Because it was not as crazy as his last film, it was a more mainstream film in a way, it made him a global star, because people thought he had dexterity & that he was able to do different kinds of work, & that was really when he became a hot-shot director.

So, Steve, how are you finding working with your brother, have you collaborated with him before & is he a hard taskmaster?
I’ve worked with Paul many times before. Largely on music but this will be the first time in theatre. I tend to be a very bricks and mortar kind of guy where as Paul is a lot more trippy. He’ll tell me he wants it to sound sparkley and I’ll ask what key that’s in. I’m also much more of a disciplinarian than Paul so it’s me who’s the task master if anyone. Paul’s great to work with though as he will always come up with leftfield ideas that I wouldn’t think of. He’s a sucker for an extended freak sequence. He’s very good at making straight acts weirder and giving weird acts a pop sensibility. We fall out obviously cus we’re brothers but it rarely comes to fisty cuffs and we always get there in the end. I would liken our working relationship as akin to David Bowie and Mick Ronson.

Who else is working with you guys on the play & how do you all get on?
It’s just the very talented Rob Atler and Miranda Shrapnell. Miranda seems lovely and very professional. She puts a lot of energy in the role. Although I’ve only met her once on Zoom and once in the flesh. I’ve only met Rob once over Zoom but I was very impressed by his John Hurt.

So Paul, what has a possible punter of your Fringe show 2022 got to look forward to if they book a ticket?
Suspense, & the element of surprise – I think people will be moved as well because the final moments are very touching – & says something about the Human condition. So its not a complete laughter raft, there are moments of contemplation – & also its really a story of love & I think all the best stories are

Final question is for Steve, you are flyering in the streets of Edinburgh & you want to convince someone to come to see your show – what do you say?
If you’ve ever been curious about cinema or the artistic process then look no further. A great insight into David Lynch, one of the most creative and influential cinematic minds of the 20th century brought to you by Mr Twonkey. No stranger to surrealist flights of fancy himself with countless stand up shows and avant garde rock albums behind him. Featuring a cast of well seasoned entertainers you will be sure to be entertained, moved and tripped out in equal measure. If you’ve got a thirst for the alternative and aren’t afraid of a giggle or two, as well as shedding the occasional tear – this is the play for you!

PAUL: Yeah I might pop that about as a press release. You don’t mind if I credit it to Lyn Gardner from the Guardian ?

STEVE: Nae worries so long as I get the royalties.

PAUL: Don’t think you get royalties for journalism.

STEVE: I intend to change all that.

Etc., Etc.


Greenside @ Nicolson Square (21.00)
Aug 5-13, 15-20, 22-27


Satan vs. God

May 6th – June 5th, 2022
Brighton Fringe, Streaming

Being part of a Fringe feels very different when only attending digitally because the personas are all very different. The 2022 Brighton Fringe, digital experience, includes a performance of a new play called intriguingly ‘Satan vs. God’. When the film/play began the levels were set by red images of a chapel with what looked like a priest or monk praying. It excitedly came into focus that Deaon Griffin-Presley would take the part of Satan, a character and play that he made his own

Going into this play written and performed by the young talent of Deaon he was unafraid of conversing in a way that pushed along with an extended arm, foot and head. No need for boundaries; its existential constructions ran so well as to show quite another side of our usual reality. The original sense of red left us in a state of something somewhat disturbing in its revelation also being the colour of rage and anger.

And this talk with God had Satan upset and there was a kind of howling, he spoke in hisses ad defiant whispers, his movement and act had in it a powerful sheerness that he managed to accomplish; all in turmoil. It had its deep set to mark an exuding excellence of darkness and colossal moments but God answered little of Satan’s questions until his fallen angel quietened and withdrew.

Abounding in simplicity sounds and visions were used as though as a vehicle for the thought of a plot as open as is possible. The first angel Lucifer had corrupted Gods creations and his seething tongue cursed the Father of Heaven. And the rights of passage where Satan self destructed; knowing that redemption was impossible. Can we imagine a state where no one is to retrieve anything from, Satan’s position was never to improve, ever.

To its credit the concepts at work moved along with no little certainty that didn’t fall short of something sublime, yet had a completeness for abusing liken to a serious domestic scene that will never be cleaned up. Satan’s pain’s and anguish’s were impossible to ignore with writing for a one man act.

Divinity, evil, humanity were immersed into a pressing need at times harsh to be aware of; hissing undertones of discomfort. Whatever it’s genuine graces the greater message hit home as an epic drama. In the styles at play we were allowed all the way into the guts of a performance something like a documentary chiselling its forceful concepts that roved around the conversation historical and accurate depiction; an epic to shake the Earth and bring low creation. God never forgave Satan, nor is to do so, a hard place for feelings.

In repetition he gladly loved God in their special relationship. Expressed where insights and demands made to set aflame the desires of both. His anger flew into a rage, his tones of vocals had in them predicament’s and unsettling presence’s; asking us for only one act of praise that could recreate God’s work in partnership and coming glory.

The greatest and somehow truest of calamity that rose shone with a likeliness of a part as to touch the heart of us and link us to something of the way beyond; the finality. Opening; an unlimited unlocking of creative and subjective freedom rising in importance. The theatre contained at its best and most serenely with a huge crunching tale giving a voice of clarity, holiness and tragic heart break.

Satan, so hurt by his father’s actions cries to his lord and only asks for forgiveness but of course God is found to be less than courteous with behaviour as to condemn his offspring. He sees it all as a wanton desire to create punishment for his angel. Totally believable, examines Satan’s plight to the greatest of detail, a success of skill, thought, revival and ruling. Satan tears were as a howling child with great pain and heart rending participation in a calling of masterful prowess.

Daniel Donnelly

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screenshot-2022-05-10-10.34.23-am.png