Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 7th – 13th June 2023

Trouble, troublemaker, yeah, that’s your middle name, oh-oh, sings my homeboy Olly, but really, I ask you, what kind of a parent gives their kids a middle name like troublemaker? Ah, well, sign of times; here’s the lowdown on everything we’ve found to be doing around these backwaters this coming week….

Don’t forget there’s more info on these, ticket links and irregular updates on our sparkly Event Calendar, so plan ahead. But this week we have…drum roll…..

Ongoing, Hail the Curious, the inaugural exhibit at The Forbidden Carnival in Chippenham; check it out by the end of the month.


 Wednesday 7th

Devizes Arts Festival still going strong, with Welsh, Polish and Belgian influences, the Aglica Trio explore exciting works by lesser-known composers as well as delving into the standard classical repertoire. 8pm at Devizes Town Hall.

Regular acoustic jam at the Southgate in Devizes.

Dragons And Mythical Beasts at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.

San Reetam at Komedia, Bath.


Thursday 8th

Devizes Arts Festival has cello and guitar duo Dieci Corde at 12:30pm in the Town Hall, and Lucy Stevens is Gertrude Lawrence in A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening, 7:30pm also at the Town Hall.

Meanwhile over at The Wharf Theatre, it’s the opening night for Watson and Brown’s Little Big Band, running until Saturday 10th.

Also running until the 10th, The Marlborough Players Presents Ian Hislop & Nick Newman’s A Bunch of Amateurs at Marlborough Town Hall.

The Overmorrow play The Tuppenny in Swindon, The Zoots are at Swindon Arts Centre with some Sound of The 60s, and Alan Fletcher’s The Doctor Will See You Now is at The Wyvern Theatre.

Comedy Drag Bingo with Charlie Hides from Ru Paul’s Drag Race at Komedia, Bath, Human Nature at the Rondo Theatre, Luke De-Sciscio is at Chapel Arts, with support from Ella Clayton.


Friday 9th

Major British comedy talent Marcus Brigstocke is at Devizes Arts Festival, 8pm at the Corn Exchange. Plan of Action plays The Southgate, Devizes, and Gaz Brookfield is at The Barge on Honey-Street.

Mobile Blackout at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, Quartetto Di Cremona’s Italian Postcards at the Wiltshire Music Centre.

Living Spit presents One Man and His Cow at Pound Arts, Corsham.

Celebrate Me at the Rondo Theatre, Bath, Mississippi MacDonald at Chapel Arts, and Kalopsia, Intrusive, Sharpie & Dreamcaster all at Moles.

Grunge Tribute Shades of Seattle at The Vic in Swindon, a change from the Chaos Brothers as previously advertised, Oasish at Coleview Community Centre, and 

An Evening And A Little Bit Of Morning with Mark Steel at The Wyvern Theatre.


Saturday 10th

There’s an Antique Sale at Devizes Market Place from 9am-3pm, and the Devizes Arts Festival continues with a free fringe event at 2pm in the Condado Lounge, Jukebox James,  Tessa Dunlop, 3pm at the Town Hall, and folk-influenced Americana with Noble Jacks at 8pm in the Corn Exchange. Noble Jacks are a rip-roaring alt.folk band with roof-raising energy, whose warm electro-acoustic interactions fuse together a mixture of folky footstompin’ rhythms and engaging lyricism.

Elsewhere in Devizes, the Eric Bell Band Band play Long Street Blues Club, Lewis Clark is at The Southgate, Ben Borrill at the Moonrakers.

Time for The Famous Hangover Sessions at the Lamb in Marlborough, with Splat the Rat, The Station, The Vooz and of course, Pants.

North Wiltshire Symphony Orchestra Presents a Summer Concert at the Neeld Hall in Chippenham. John Morrissey memorial gig at the Consti Club in aid of Dorothy House.

The Stones, tribute at the Civic in Trowbridge.

Nadine Khouri at Pound Arts, Corsham.

It’s the Bradford-on-Avon Food & Drink Festival, Vonj at the Three Horseshoes. 

Boorish Trumpson at the Rondo Theatre, Bath, Untamed Burlesque at Chapel Arts.

King Awesome at The Vic, Swindon, Kentwood Choir t Swindon Arts Centre, and 

Elizabeth & Philip – A Story of Young Love, Marriage, and Monarchy at The Wyvern Theatre. 

Nearly Dan – The Spirit & Sound of Steely Dan at the Cheese & Grain in Frome.


Sunday 11th

Lions on the Green, Devizes Lions Club’s annual car show and fun day at Devizes Green. Devizes Arts Festival, Festival Walk – Wansdyke Wanderings. Briefing at 10.20am. There’s a free fringe event, 2pm at the British Lion, hard stompin’, bluegrassy, old-timey playing of The Sisters & The Brothers.

Friggit at The Tuppenny in Swindon.

The Jon Amor Trio play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon.

Adam Giles Levy is at the Electric Bar in Komedia, Bath, Josh Berry’s Sexual Politics at Rondo Theatre, Flamenco Express at Chapel Arts.


Monday 12th

Devizes Arts Festival have An Evening with furniture restorer, Will Kirk, primarily known for his work on BBC’s phenomenally successful restoration programme The Repair Shop.

7:30pm at the Corn Exchange.

Rock The Tots: Whatever The Weather at Pound Arts, Corsham.

Wiltshire Schools Dance Festival at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.


Tuesday 13th

Devizes Arts Festival’s Lois Pryce: Revolutionary Ride – One Woman’s Solo Motorcycle Journey around Iran at the Bear Hotel, the Elles Bailey Band play the Corn Exchange at 8pm.

McCartney – The Songbook at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.


That’s all I got for you, trouble, troublemaker. I know you’re no good, but you’re stuck in my brain, or Brian, or whatever. So, just for you a reminder this list is not exhaustive, and more events will undoubtedly be added to our event calendar as and when we discover them. So keep an eye on it, just the one though, be safe and have a good week.


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REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – Texas Tick Fever @ Three Crowns, Devizes, 4th June 2023

Andy Fawthrop

Free Fringe Frolics

Another day, another venue, and the Devizes Arts Festival is now getting into its stride.  This afternoon was the first of the five FREE events in this year’s programme, and what a cracker it turned out to be.

Texas Tick Fever hail from that there Stroud, up in the Wild North Country, and rolled into town full of energy on a beautiful sunny afternoon in the courtyard of The Three Crowns.  The Vize was about to be treated to some bluegrass, y’all.  Although they’re a firm fixture on the roots music circuit, they’re a band I’d not personally run into before.  Took ‘em about two numbers and I was quickly hooked.

The boys’ marketing BS had talked about their music being “moonshine-fuelled”, but this being The Vize, it was more Wadworth 6X and ice-cream-fuelled.  Not that that mattered in the slightest, as they were on absolutely top form.

Their blend of Americana/ roots/ hillbilly/ Appalachian/ backwoods/ hayseed and good old bluegrass quickly had the crowd applauding.  With plenty of wise-cracking and self-deprecating humour on the side, this was just perfect stuff for a lazy afternoon at the pub.  Featuring banjo and guitar, occasional harmonica, kick-drum and harmonising vocals, the guys made some great music.  There was new and original stuff, and plenty of covers, including Sittin’ On Top O’ The World, It Takes A Worried Man, Down In Mississippi and (believe it or not, older readers look away now) that old theme to The Beverly Hillbillies.  Amazing.  And who could forget their fully-deserved encore of Duelling Banjos?  Terrific stuff.

They’ve also won my “Best Introduction To A Song” Award for one of their intros.  Following a decent re-telling of the urban myth, where legend has it that Robert Johnson met the devil at a crossroads and gave him his soul in exchange for mastery of the guitar, Stretch leaned into the mic and grinned, saying “well, anyways, this next song has absolutely nothin’ to do with that”.  Comic timing at its best.

Absolutely terrific entertainment, and an early highlight of the Festival for me.

And there’s more FREE Fringe next Saturday 10th June in Condado Lounge with Jukebox James, next Sunday 11th June in the British Lion with Sisters & Brothers, and the following Saturday 17th June with Carrie Etter Poetry.

The Devizes Arts Festival continues at various venues around town until Saturday 17th June.  

Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk  


REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – Sir Willard White @ Corn Exchange, Devizes, 3rd June 2023

Bass Baritone Brilliance

Andy Fawthrop

It was time last night for The Devizes Arts Festival to roll out its first big-hitter of the 2023 programme, and what a smash it proved to be.  Although not quite sold out, the Corn Exchange was pretty full, and those who turned out were rewarded with a sparkling performance.

Sir Willard White is one of the world’s best-loved and most versatile opera stars of the last 40 years.  He is a performer whose illustrious career has taken him to the most prestigious opera houses and concert halls throughout the world.  It was opera royalty come to pay us a state visit.

The evening opened with the Kymaera Duo, the twin guitars of Shane Hill and Simon James, who have been performing together for over twenty years.  Their beautiful and understated rendition of the classic “Summertime” set a very high bar for the rest of the evening.  Soon they were joined by the tastefully yellow waist-coated Sir Willard.

Over the next couple of hours we were entertained with songs and reminiscences from his life on stage and screen.  The songs were selected because they had been particularly important to him, or held some special meaning.  Pausing to explain and to introduce each piece, he took us on a musical journey from his youth in Jamaica, through his early career, the first truly complete recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in 1976 to the songs that made the bass-baritone singer Paul Robeson famous in the 1920s and ‘30s.  He explained that, amazingly, he had never wanted to be a singer in the professional sense, he just wanted to do something that would define him as “a real man”.  But, having tried out the idea of working in an office with a briefcase and a rolled umbrella, Mr. White (as he termed himself) discovered that would not be his life.

With occasional instrumental pieces from the guitar duo to spell the singer, the Great American Songbook was rolled out for us, together with a few other unexpected classics.  We had Gershwin, Nat King Cole, Aaron Copeland, and even Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.  “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”, “Some Enchanted Evening”, “My Way”, “Ole Man River” were delivered in what appeared an effortless style, all the while accompanied by some fabulous guitar work.

A totally splendid performance and a deserved encore.  But even then it wasn’t over.  In an equally engaging coda to the evening, Sir Willard took questions from the floor.  In this section he revealed (even more that the main performance) what a really charming, urbane and thoughtful man he was.  His style was avuncular, gentle and understated, and his philosophy of life, of self-care (of voice and body) and of mutual self-respect was thought-provoking.  All in all, a great evening, and a worthy gem in the Arts Festival crown.

The Devizes Arts Festival continues, with events every day, until Saturday 17th June.  The full programme of events, times and prices is available online.

Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk  


REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – Tango Calor @ Town Hall, Devizes 2nd June 2023

Perhaps..Perhaps…Perhaps…

Andy Fawthrop

Images by Gail Foster

The Devizes Arts Festival kicked off its 2023 programme with a real bang last night, and perhaps this will be the best one yet if the opening gig was anything to go by.…..

Tango Calor is, not surprisingly, a tango band trio. It was originally formed by the concertina, sorry – bandoneon, player Mirek Salmon in Bristol in 2016. Joining him was jazz pianist Daan Temmink, and the Cuban vocalist Indira Roman. And together the three of them produced a sparkling evening of music for a full room and an appreciative crowd.

Tango Calor at Devizes Arts FestivalImage: Gail Foster

The Assembly Room in the Town Hall is a beautiful venue (and I may have banged on about this before) provided it’s used for the right performers. Tango Calor certainly fitted that bill. With the room laid out cabaret-style with tables and chairs, leaving a dance-floor at the front, and good sound and nicely-subdued lighting, the atmosphere was just right.

Tango Calor at Devizes Arts FestivalImage: Gail Foster

We were treated over two sets, to a wide range of South American and Caribbean rhythms, some instrumental, and some accompanied by Indira’s infectious Spanish vocals. The songs were romantic, sensuous, melting like warm chocolate. I’d be the first to admit that tango is not at the top of my list of favourite musical styles, but even I was won over. I stayed right to the end, and the evening seemed to be over all too quickly. We even had a few brave couples getting up to dance, which was wonderful to watch. I’m no expert, but they certainly seemed to be making all the right moves in the right order. The warm applause after each number was often as much for the dancers as it was for the musicians.

Tango Calor at Devizes Arts Festival. Image: Gail Foster

The band received a justified all-clapping, all-singing encore, and then it was all over. Back into the Devizes evening with a warm glow of appreciation for a top-notch performance. Roll on the rest of the Festival!

The Devizes Arts Festival continues, with events every day, until Saturday 17th June. The full programme of events, times and prices is available online.

Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk


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Film Review: Translations

by Helen Edwards

For those that are too busy to read this film review and to help our tech-conditioned ‘keep-it-quick’ minds please see the one liner below: 

“A raw portrayal of the depths that a mental illness can reach with a glimpse of the impact on others and the eventual hope that can lead to recovery”

Or, if you’ve a few more seconds, read the Tweet-length review here:

“A reflective, unsettling film depicting mental ill health, grief and two people coming together to heal. Kate Morgan-Jones’ performance brings depth and skill with a brilliantly realistic scene showing a crisis episode. Walls are broken down and agoraphobia is given a platform for understanding”

I suspect I’ve lost a few of you. For those still reading, thank you. Here is the full lowdown of ‘Translations’, the black and white, romantic, mental health exposé drama set in Wales:  

Most of my reviews are pretty long and I apologise each time I link one to a social media account. But I won’t change the length. Well, not for now at least.  To write only a short piece would be a disservice to the people who have put their soul into the work. They deserve a full debrief for the hours and cash that they’ve ploughed in, usually with no guarantee of success.  It takes a risk-taker and an entrepreneur, with often an activist’s determination to see a creative project through to the finish. This is especially true of a feature film where the stakes are higher than most other forms. Add to that a focus on topics that are vital but are difficult to portray, and you have a true passion-project worthy of review words.  ‘Translations’ by director, Keith Kopp and writer, Laurence Guy is one such project. 

From the opening scene where Stef, the main character, performed her poignant poem ‘Walls’, my gut was stilled into a contemplative but not wholly comfortable quiet.  It was going to be one of those – a film that would take the viewer on a ride through dark, complex emotions. An internal rollercoaster where I knew I would be swirled through loop-the-loops of mental anguish.  I wasn’t sure I was ready for this.  Whispering, ‘please let it have a happy ending’ to myself, I sipped my tea and carried on.

Stef is in her twenties. She writes, talks to herself (who doesn’t?), and hasn’t left her house in a long time (years).  Her beloved brother, Liam died whilst travelling with his best friend Evan (Alan Emrys). The story of how this happened is pieced together throughout the film. Stef’s mental health, which wasn’t great before, suffered hugely after his death with agoraphobia now ruling her reality. A few segments into the movie, and after a long absence, Evan arrives at Stef’s Welsh cottage.  His presence transformed her walled-in existence. Laughter and chemistry ensued with the pair reminiscing shared childhood and teen memories. But close behind came an open window into the mental torment that gripped both characters.  Morgan-Jones’ portrayal of an acute mental health crisis in Evan’s company was sublime and harrowing.  The contradictory nature of desperately wanting help yet vehemently pushing it away and the deep shame that followed gave a true insight into an illnesses of the mind.

Evan, whilst trying to help Stef also gave many clues to his own health problems. These stemmed from his guilt at Liam’s death and his wanting to be invisible; to “soak into the walls so no one can see me… like a ghost”. Grief washed over them both and at times the feeling of angst ping-pongs between them with a competitive hue. A game of ‘who’s the most miserable?’ Stef and Evan share grief, mental health challenges and both feel trapped; one indoors and the other behind a camera. I was often left wondering, can the troubled really help the troubled?

I instantly questioned why the movie was in black and white. The answer revealed itself in an early scene which showed a framed picture hanging on Stef’s wall of a barren, lonely tree (seen a number of times during the film). Devoid of colour with all life stripped away, the tree evoked a feeling of isolated fear. I think many of us felt a version of this during the most stringent lockdown weeks of 2020, our own surface-level insight into agoraphobia. Black and white also gives a greater intensity and emotional impact on screen; the viewer needs to look closer for meaning and work harder for understanding. I wasn’t sure at first. I don’t love having to work whilst being entertained and I really did want to see the colour of the delicious sounding curry, but I became convinced that it was 100% the best choice of medium for ‘Translations’. I would have loved to see colour creep in towards the end during Stef’s transformation but perhaps this would have been too obvious, I’m no film director.

Other aspects of the movie that caught my attention included the film’s score. It created a strong ambience throughout and, along with the dialogue, dramatised the emotion and helped to share powerful messages. A slow, heavy beat often preceded a philosophical musing from one of the characters whilst the crescendoing thud-thud-thud staccato made me feel Stef’s anxieties as if they were my own. A stand out visual moment from the film that made me smile was seeing Evan rolling and smoking a cigarette. It made me reflect that despite the number of people who smoke ‘rollies’ we hardly ever see the ritualised making of them on screen. Parts of the film that will stay with me are readings of the ‘Walls’ and the ‘Line in the Sand’ poems. ‘Walls’ was performed twice in the movie and in a clever, circular finish, ‘Line in the Sand’ bought the film to its close. I would love these poem clips to go viral to illustrate what agoraphobia can feel like and to help people feel less alone and more hopeful.

Please go and see this film. You won’t come away feeling lighter but you will have a glimpse into a mental health challenge that, in its most severe form, affects well over a million people in the UK. Kate Morgan-Jones’ performance is believable, haunting and impactful. She understands the torment, the struggle and the complexity that accompanies mental health conditions and she shows this in every scene. The film has lingered in my mind and has got me thinking about all those conditions we know about but build walls around. Watch this movie to start breaking down these walls, to transform our ignorance into understanding and to help our neighbours, friends and families feel less alone and “locked inside (themselves)”. Please support this film and perhaps then we will begin to see more pictures that educate and give true insight into mental illness. Thank you ‘Translations’ for opening my eyes a little wider.

Written on 24/05/23 by Helen L Edwards
@helenledwards4

Awards:
Riverside Film Festival 2023 (Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film, Best Actress, Best Screenplay)

‘Translations’ tour:
Screenings start on the 2nd June in Wales. It reaches The Little Theatre in Bath on the 25th June and the Melksham Film Club on the 30th June

For Tickets:
https://www.kwkopp.com/


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Devizes Arts Festival Week One Preview: Indian Blues to Micro-Art

Set to be a busy month in town as The Devizes Arts Festival rolls out their extensive and promising programme, the best way I think to tackle this is week-by-week, highlighting some of those events which really shows off the diversity and quality on offer…..

No sooner than the month kicks off, so does the festival, in tango style, this Friday 2nd June.  

The Town Hall hosts one of the most exciting tango bands performing in the UK, Tango Calor.

Doubled-up on Saturday, as polar adventurer and motivational speaker Sue Stockdale presents A Life of Adventure, 1pm at St John’s Church, and versatile opera star Sir Willard White brings his Kymaera Duo to the Corn Exchange in the evening.

Sunday morning they walk the civil war battlefield of Roundway Down, but the fun, I think, really begins at 2pm in the Three Crowns when that most wonderful Americana combo, banjo and guitar, is played out by Texas Tick Fever, who promises some foot-stompin’ good ol’ hillbilly adaptations of known tunes. This is just one of two free fringe events on Sunday, the second at 7pm down in the Cellar Bar of The Bear Hotel; my personal pick of the week. 

We recently gave Ajay Srivastav one of our song of week features, as his music is a truly unique blend of the kind of acoustic we love from our own live music circuit, but as a British born artist of Indian heritage, his songs, with themes of protest and change, have this subtle Indian tinge, and it’s sublime. Don’t go expecting all-out Bhangra or the sitar plucking of Ravi Shankar, Ajay is decidedly blues and can be offbeat at times, working with legends such as Gregory Isaacs, Jah Wobble and Zakir Hussain. Ajay says of his style, “I just wanted to say my thing… I was tired of listening to other people talking – I want to be heard, and this is what I have to say. And I hope people understand where I’m coming from.”

Yet if from tango to opera and onto the unique blends of Ajay Srivastav displays Devizes Arts Festival’s diversity, Monday 5th at 8pm in the Town Hall is something completely different. The world’s most talented living micro-artist, Graham Short will be taking us on the journey of his “Life as a Micro-Artist.” Now this one really interests me, because as an art college dropout, if I ever was to become an artist I’d be the sort hanging naked from a swinging cradle splattering random paint onto a canvas! One assignment from my personal hell was a bearded lecturer who demanded I take a black and white photo and recreate it on a grid of one millimetre squares, painting each square with a grayscale of ten; a millimetre, I ask you, the dexterity of gods, not humans!

Well, cut a long story short, I considered the guy to be nuts, as he criticised the tiniest bit of bleed as “useless!” See, I can admire those colossal Renaissance paintings in the National Gallery for their sheer scale, and dive into their gorgeous clumps of oil so skillfully placed, but intricate detail simply baffles me, how the nimbleness of a micro-artist can create those miniatures with such calculation is beyond my fathoming. It is one reason when out of work I dare not apply at Cross Manufacturing, as I figured the fiddly attention to the tiniest of detail would be too much for my sausage-fingers! I mean Graham Short is the kind of fellow who engraves Churchill’s ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech on the tip of a World War II bullet, for crying out loud, that’s something to be in awe of.

Aged fifteen Graham Short left school in Birmingham without any qualifications, undergoing a six-year apprenticeship in copper plates and steel dies engraving for printing, but he didn’t take to the printing trade, so, years self-employed as an engraver gained him clients including Gieves & Hawkes of Savile Row, outfitters to the Royal Family; Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Sandringham,and 10 Downing Street followed. He engraved business cards for everyone from Richard Attenborough to Za Za Gabor. In recent additions to his blog he discusses aside the easiest metals to work on, gold, platinum and brass, his troubles engraving tablets for the Institute of Cancer Research, saying, “they are too soft and flake easily;” I couldn’t even begin to consider the complexities of such, still baffled by the expectancy of the bearded art college lecturer who expected me to paint millimetre squares, the blooming slave driver! 

Devizes Arts Festival has a diverse program of events, I rest my case. So, Tuesday, expect a humorous and moving one-man one-act play originally performed by Tom Conti at the Merchant Suite by Onarole Theatre, called Jesus, My Boy!

On Wednesday find classical Welsh, Polish and Belgian influences with the Aglica Trio at  the Assembly Room, and cello and guitar duo Clare Deniz and Mihael Majetic’s Dieci Corde at the Town Hall on Thursday 8th, with actor and singer, Lucy Stevens and pianist Elizabeth Marcus at the Assembly Room in the evening with Gertrude Lawrence: A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.

Weekday finale polishes off with British comedy writer, actor, presenter and performer Marcus Brigstocke at the Corn Exchange, eyes down at 8pm for this Radio 4 comedian, whose talent was noted early in 1996 when he won the BBC New Comedian Award at the Edinburgh Festival, and that’s enough to digest for one day; we will be back highlighting next week as soon as conceivably possible!

Tickets for all these and further Devizes Arts Festival events can be found HERE


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Devizes Street Festival Day 2

Devizes Street Festival 2023 came to a glorious close in the Market Place yesterday with the unique and dynamic brass, keys and guitar combo, Misha & His Merry Men, a collective of varying musicians on a theme of peace and love, which made for the perfect summary of the event as a whole; our waffle about the first day is HERE. 

With new DOCA coordinators Annabel and Ashley at the helm and the barrier set high by their predecessor Loz Samuals, there was no telling how this would go. Maybe there’s a few lessons learned by the new team, as this is no easy feat to pull off, but backed by the knowledgeable and ever-friendly volunteers I think they made an excellent team and carved a vision of how DOCA events will carry on the traditions set by previous coordinators, from Loz to Ian Hopkins, and of naturally, add their own stamp too.

It was an honour, even if last millisecond planned, to be on the stage to introduce the bands and see the mass of people flooding the Market Place with happy smiles and cheers; I’ve never done anything like this before and though like a rabbit in the spotlights, it gave me an insight into what it feels like for a band to be in front of a colossal crowd; nerve-wracking! So be it for me to say, the opening act on the main stage was also one Devizine had a hand in picking, with a want to introduce a local act amidst the national and international performers across this amazing street festival.

Now, you should note I’ve no intention of continuously getting all Royston Vasey on DOCA, for I fully support and love the fact that rather than hosting just local acts which can be seen on our pub and venue circuit, that they source these outside performers moreso. But I also feel room should be made to bring the crowds one thing specifically Devizes. So, I am hoping this will become an annual thing, when we can suggest a local act which we think has had a particularly good year, and present them on that main stage; not everyone there is able to attend our live music scene across the many pubs and venues.

The proof was in pudding; see the featured photographic evidence. With a fanbase predominantly teenage and unable to attend pubs so easily, the age demographic was so varied, the crowd had amassed to near full capacity. The fanbase stood at the front, the more curious further back, but just to wander through the crowds and see the same look of awe and admiration for a young local band on the pinnacle of greatness, was mind-blowingly epic. Nothing Rhymes With Orange smashed it out of the park, that being the Market Place, and to every surrounding village with an absolutely sublime performance to lodge a firm place in the history of Devizes Street Festival.

Nothing Rhymes With Orange at Devizes Street Festival. Image: Gail Foster

Gaps between bands on stage are so because you need to also focus your eyes on the various street theatre and circus acts happening all around, though slighter, it felt, this year, the quality of them was equal to previous years, and something about small acorns for the new coordinators to ponder through feedback. There will always be those few with a preference to hang around the bar and stage area, so perhaps some lower volume music could be added to entertain them while families explore the side-stalls and circus acts, or at least quarter-of-an-hour prior to the next band coming on, so the area in front of the stage can refill.

Nothing Rhymes With Orange at Devizes Street Festival. Image: Gail Foster

It is certainly how it seemed as crowds waned after NRWO’s spectacular set, regaining the momentum and their attention back to the stage was slighter, which was a tiddly shame, because I don’t know about you but Plymouth’s Cabarats were right up my street and knocking loudly at my door!

My favourite outside band bought in for our entertainment, by a long shot, The Cabarats were solid with the perfect balance of folk and reggae, so downtempo offbeat when building, and layers of uplifting folk once roused, it pushed my every button. If reviews are simply opinion-based, it’s my opinion they supplied the exact ingredients we want and need at the Street Festival, and did with gusto, zest and a unity of tightness musically which simply delighted.

And in a review, of kind, it is impossible to summarise every individual happening at such a special occasion, so I rest my case, I think it was slighter in content this year but only so to break the new DOCA team in gradually, but again, the whole shebang hinges on us bonding and helping out wherever we can, and the massive thanks has to go out to all individual organisations and volunteers which go into making this, annually, the best weekend in Devizes. Look, there’s a giant woman with a stage of devils and circus acrobats under her skirt where on any normal day you are just waiting for a bus with some hoody eating a Greggs sausage roll; what an utterly fantastic weekend, we love you DOCA!


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The Vintage Bazaar is back in Devizes!

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HAVING A BABY AND THE S**T THEY DON’T TELL YOU

26th and 27th May 2023
Wharf Theatre, Devizes
Performed and written by Lou Cox

Review by Helen Edwards

I will start this review with a trigger warning. The proceeds from this, Lou Cox’s hilarious and devastating show, are being donated to The Grand Appeal, the official Bristol Children’s Hospital charity. Whilst the audience laughed loudly at the very funny and clever one liners we also cried our sincerest tears for Lou, for her and partner Jason’s baby girl, Hattie, and for the mistakes that were made during her delivery….

When I sat down a kind person to my right, noting that I was on my own started chatting to me. She explained that Lou is her daughter’s teacher at Stagecoach Performing Arts and that she is brilliant. My seat neighbour then told me the ending of the play. She did this to protect me. I spent moments during the show, in between laughs, wondering if knowing was a good thing. My conclusion has been that thank goodness I did; I had made a huge assumption from the title of the play that it would be a chuckle-a-minute nodding in recognition kind of thing. But it was so much more.

With knowledge of what was to come, my laughter was a notch quieter but it still erupted unchecked. It just had a different dimension; one of pure admiration that the woman in front of me had found the strength and courage to write, devise and perform this show within a year of her baby’s death.

The stage was simple, a sofa to the left, chair in the middle and a screen behind. It opened with Lou sat in the chair, black leggings on and a pair of pants around her ankles. She proceeded to talk us through top-tips of sanitary protection placement, ensuring that the multi-padded creation would be enough to catch her first period post birth. Her wit was evident from the start; recognition-fuelled laughter came from every woman who had ever had a baby with chuckles from all else. The pace and punchiness of the jokes picked up with Lou, pants discarded now, sharing her experience of the advice that she received whilst pregnant. Judging by the raucous roars in the auditorium there were many identifying with her journey from pregnancy to birth.

Lou described the uncomfortable telling of people that ‘I’m pregnant’ as akin to shouting, ‘I’VE HAD SEX’, the first of many embarrassing personal disclosures that can accompany being an expectant mother. She then ripped through well-intentioned but unsolicited nuggets of advice that she had been given with a sharp, shrewd humour. We were taken on a tour of Lou and Jason’s comical antics at antenatal hypnotherapy classes, given a blow-by-blow account of morning sickness, told of her migration from ‘sexy’ to ‘big’ pants and the work involved in getting her private area ready for public (midwife) viewing. It was packed with funny anecdotes.

A few lines that stood out in the first half:

‘My biological clock is ticking. It’s not ticking it’s Big Ben bonging’

‘Perhaps some of us have wizards sleeves down there and the baby will fly out?’

Whilst teaching a class of year 9’s: ‘I would simply turn my back on the student’s mid-sentence to yak my guts up and turn around after like nothing had happened to complete my sentence’

And then came the reality of what happened next. The posts that Lou shared on Facebook after giving birth were shown on the screen. We saw hope turn to despair as Hattie’s life support was turned off. Hattie breathed unaided for 36 hours and Lou allowed us to be with her and Jason as they took their baby girl for a walk in the sunshine through a park off St Michael’s Hill in Bristol. This was where Hattie took her last breaths, five days after her birth, on the 19th May 2022.

The courage that Lou displayed whilst reliving this personal trauma was like nothing I’d seen on stage before. It was raw, generous and insightful. The entire audience was in tears with many, like me, crying to the point of back racking sobs. If the play was transferred to other theatres I think it could very easily become a catalyst for change. To see the people behind the labouring women in delivery suites and to view the emotional impact of avoidable newborn deaths is an eye opening and heart crushing experience.

Lou explained that the hospital where Hattie was born (not Bristol Children’s Hospital) sent a letter that included the line: “The trust would like to send their sincere apologies for the mistakes that were made”. She went on to tell us that an investigation report clarified that Hattie would still be alive if it wasn’t for these mistakes. Lou believes that accountability has been lacking and her anger towards this is evident throughout the latter part of the play. She talked of her post-birth and trauma care; which included receiving a call from a health visitor four days after Hattie’s death to ask how they were getting on with the baby and being told that she didn’t qualify for NHS-funded counselling because she was not suicidal.

Lou told me afterwards that the objective of the show was to raise money to support Bristol Children’s hospital. So far she’s raised over £21,000 for The Grand Appeal. She was recently asked by the hospital if they could buy 29 new nebulisers, out of the donations. Her face lit up as she told me this with the knowledge that other newborns will benefit from the money raised in Hattie’s memory.

Lou – the final words in your performance were ‘Hattie McConnell you are beyond special’. I’d like to add to that. I’m sure I speak for all those in the audiences over the weekend when I say: Lou Cox, you are very talented and very special. Thank you for the laughter with your brilliant comic timing and delivery, and thank you for courageously sharing your story.

Please follow this link if you can help support The Grand Appeal in memory of Hattie McConnell.


Editor’s Note: Lou Cox directs Girls Like That at The Wharf Theatre in July, preview HERE.

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Devizes Street Festival; Day One

If I can, which I think is best after one too many visits to the Stealth bar, sum today in Devizes up in a word, the word would be “balanced.” Perfectly balanced….

DOCA smashed day one of the 2023 street festival, the sun shone and a brilliant day was had on the Green. We see our town turned into a festival of colour, circus, street theatre, music and dance annually and it never fails to impress and inspire, we’re accustomed to how great this event is. Today in particular, though, managed to pitch that perfect balance in supplying enough for everyone of all ages.

Myself, I bussed it in to find brass nutters Tuba Libres in their civvies busking in the Brittox, making for a grand teaser. The remaining wander to the Green buzzed with anticipation as Devizes was already bustling.

Enter the Green to see folk preparing to be Pac-Man while kids dressed as chaser ghosts and other dads were hit with sponge hammers purely for popping their heads from holes, and other curious video game related shenanigans, but in reality. If there is one thing to distract gamer kids from screens, this was it, and it worked, and it highlighted my point about the perfect balance as others gathered between the willows of a sustainable architectural stroke of genius to hear fantastic upbeat folk duo, Bonnie and Pete encapsulate the audience as Manchester-based Good Habits; they simply charmed and were so apt for chilling in the sanctuary.

With a witty finale folk-disco medley of Those Were the Days and I Will Survive, which worked a billion and one times better than it might sound, Good Habits habitually joined the crowds, while Sustainable Devizes took the mic for a environmental chat, and I sauntered around the site.

Behind us trapeze equipment was proudy erected, but rather than wait for the performance at the end of the day, was being used as a trapeze workshop where revellers queued to give it their best shot. Ten out of ten for interaction, obviously I’d have given it a go, but a food van operated with a virtual queue, and if the mobile device was to vibarate while I was up there my cheeseburger would’ve gone to waste; priorities, see?!

Tuck options aplenty, I confess to a rather splendid cake from the Devizes for Ukraine stall, who had a lovely selection of pastries and cakes you’re unlikely to have seen before.

Jealous because I forgot my sunhat, Welsh-queer mesh dancers plodded to ambient a soundscape, eerily building to a high energy folk dance, here presenting the wild card and receiving mixed verbal reviews from the crowd; certainly had impact.

I say wildcard, I mean, look, there’s a tricycle ridden around by a giant octopus, while its tabletop presents two aquabatic fish-dancers; this isn’t the usual day out in Devizes. But amidst the bizarre Lucid Acid’s Cat Sith was perhaps the most mesmerising, taking the pantomime horse to a whole new level. If it was a botheration to distract my eyes from the genius method of making this acrobatic puppetry appear genuinely feline, it was only to note the toddler next to me completely captivated by it, and my vision circled the crowd to note every person young and old watching in awe.

Miraculous changed into eighties keep fit attire The Tuba Libres blasted their brass at the Willow Sanctuary, and cockney sounding upbeat folk collective The Great Malarkey were as the name suggests, great with a two-tone twist, only to be followed by a spectacular display on the trapeze and now we await day two, which, by the time you read this it will be underway, in the Market Place this time; get your crocs!


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 24th-30th May 2023

OMG, OMG, another bank holiday weekend coming up, who’s excited, who’s coming out to play?! Here’s what we’ve found this week, find the info and links, and for planning ahead, here, on our event calendar. No prizes for guessing Editor’s Pick of the Week this week!

Obviously more stuff will be added to our event calendar as and when it comes to our attention, this is not comprehensive, so do check in later in the week, and let us know what we missed, we charge one cupcake to add an event, but it must be a chocolate one! 

Don’t forget to check out Hail the Curious, the debut exhibit at The Forbidden Carnival in Chippenham, running until 30th June. 


Wednesday 24th:

Regular acoustic jam at The Southgate in Devizes.

Skimpy & The Triniti Band at The Bell Inn, Bath, where Little Shop of Horrors runs until Saturday at The Rondo Theatre.

Emmanuel Sonubi’s Emancipated at Swindon Arts Centre, and Gretchen Peters at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.

The Mead Community Primary School presents Forever Treasure Island at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon.

Pierre Novellie and Huge Davies, Comedy Previews at Pound Arts in Corsham.


Thursday 25th:

Shindig Festival opens its doors, have a great weekend to all at Shindig, you lucky lot; have a boogie for me!

Open Mic at Stallards in Trowbridge.

Lady Maisery at Pound Arts, Corsham.

The Soap Girls play The Vic in Swindon, I say, ding-dong! Reverend Ferriday is at The Tuppenny, Jen Brister’s The Optimist at Swindon Arts Centre, and it’s all soul at The Wyvern Theatre with the Luther show.

Octopus Dream Theatre presents I Love You, Mum, I Promise I Won’t Die at  The Merlin Theatre, Frome.


Friday 26th:

Lou Cox’s n o holds barred one-woman show, Having a Baby and the S**t They Don’t Tell You, at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes for Friday and Saturday; highly recommended from us, but not for the faint hearted!

Meanwhile, 12 Bars Later make a welcomed return to The Three Crowns, Devizes, with the incredible Mark Colton’s solo show at The Pelican.

John Watterson’s celebrated tribute to Jake Thackray, An Evening Without Jake Thackray comes to The Bouverie Hall in Pewsey. Billy & Louie at The Castle & Ball, Marlborough. 

Running until the 29th, it’s the opening of Chippenham Folk Festival, while the fantastic Triple JD Band plays The Old Road Tavern.

Find Castro at The Wheatsheaf, Calne.

The most amazing young soul singer I’ve heard for an era or four, Franki Soul is at Trowbridge Town Hall. While Fly Yeti Fly have a double-bill at The Pump with Alex Roberts and Graeme Ross.

The Karport Collective are the Seven Stars, Winsley, Bradford-on-Avon; fantastic these guys are. Dervish, legends of the Irish folk scene at Wiltshire Music Centre.

Break Cover are at Brown Street in Salisbury.

Tapped at the Theatre Royal, Bath, and The Lynne and McCartney Story Theatre Show at Chapel Arts.

We Were Promised Honey at Pound Arts, Corsham.

Here Come The Crows at The Vic in Swindon, while Rosie Jones’ Triple Threat is at Swindon Arts Centre, and The Roy Orbison Experience comes to The Wyvern Theatre.

Ultimate Coldplay at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, and The Urban Voodoo Machine at The Tree House.


Saturday 27th:

You know it has to be Editor’s Pick of the Week, The Devizes International Street Festival is free, it’s the best weekend in Devizes, and it starts on the Green on Saturday and continues on the Sunday in the Market Place; see you there!

Street Festival after parties, then, find Jonah Hitchens Band at the Southgate, Devizes, Ben Borrill plays at The Moonrakers, and Gerry Jablonski Band plays at the Long Street Blues Club. The Snuff Box has an International Craft Beer Festival, and The Exchange hosts guest DJ, Castro.

Direct from the Pump, Fly Yeti Fly, Alex Roberts and Graeme Ross fly over to The Barge on HoneyStreet, while the Chaos Brothers are at The Lamb in Marlborough. 

Be Like Will & Band Of Pilgrims are at The Pump in Trowbridge.

End of Story at The Talbot, Calne, while Band-X play The Wheatsheaf.

A fundraiser for Swindon’s Ukrainian community at Swindon Hub, Rave Against The Regime at The Vic, The Black Hole Sons at the New Inn, Walk Right Back at The Wyvern Theatre, and Tom Davis’ Work in Progress at Swindon Arts Centre.

Ma Bessie and her Pigfoot Band at Chapel Arts, Bath, with You Are The Sun at Theatre Royal, running until 29th May, and A Shining Intimacy at The Egg.

Triple JD are at the Sun in Frome, the Cheese & Grain have Lindisfarne while The Burning Hell are at The Tree House.


Sunday 28th:

Devizes International Street Festival continues, in the Market Place this time, too much to mention here, but do look out for our homegrown upcoming talent Nothing Rhymes With Orange on the main stage at 2:30pm. 

The Barge, Honey-Street are Celebrating 50 years of Dark Side of the Moon with Atom Heart Floyd.

Jon Amor Trio at The New Inn, Bath, Jolie Blon at The Bell Inn.

Last Call at The Vic, Swindon.

Frome’s Spring Vegan Fair at the Cheese & Grain.


Monday 29th:

Bank holiday goodness then, arty kids will be pottery painting at Hilworth Park, find Kate and The Unpredictables at The Three Crowns, Devizes.

Swindon’s famous duck race, see poster below.

Mono at the Cheese & Grain, Tryani Collective at The Bell in Bath.


Tuesday 30th I got nought, unless you know better; always tell us if we’ve missed something! Mind you, I think that’s enough for one week, have a day off, stay home and make beans on toast; you can add a little chilli powder to fully clear your system if you so choose! Have a great weekend, stop me and give me grief if you spot me at the Street Festival, I don’t bite…..not on the nipple at any rate!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 17th-23rd May 2023

Hey you, had one of those weeks so far, and need to blow off some steam?! I know I have, but you don’t need me to get started on my problems, you need to hear about all the events happening this coming week in Wiltshire; here’s what we’ve found, but there’s always more to come, so info on these, links and further updates can be found on our Event Calendar.

It’s about this time when you really need to be looking over next month too and planning ahead. So much going on in June, from Pride to Devizes Arts Festival and, and, and, well, just have a sneaky peak HERE.

Ongoing: do check out Si Griffith’s new gallery The Forbidden Carnival in Chippenham. There’s an exhibit currently running until the end of June, and it is amazing; see the poster below, and review HERE.  


Wednesday 17th: the regular acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes. Also, a piano lunchtime recital from Helen Farrar at Pound Arts in Corsham.

The Tight Lipped Combo at The Bell Inn, Bath, and Tiff Stevenson’s Sexy Brain at the Rondo Theatre.

Opening at Swindon Arts Centre and running until 20th May the TinkCo Theatre Group presents Calendar Girls. And Kate Rusby is at the Cheese & Grain in Frome.


Thursday 18th: And The Drystones play The Pump in Trowbridge, with a Comedy Network night at the Civic.

Happy Place at the Rondo Theatre in Bath.

Ghosts of This Town play The Vic in Swindon, Somerset Velvet & James Turner at The Tuppenny, and Lulu’s For the Record is at The Wyvern Theatre.

Jon Royon is a Corsham based potter who took up pottery 5 years ago after taking classes at The Pound, and you can meet him at the Pound in Corsham, and it’s free. In the evening there’s a National Theatre live screening of David Harewood (Homeland) and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) playing feuding political rivals in James Graham’s (Sherwood) multiple award-winning new drama, Best of Enemies, set in 1968 America, as two men fight to become the next president. This is also showing at the Merlin Theatre in Frome.


Friday 19th: The Reason, are at The Three Crowns in Devizes, and that is never a bad thing! Sarum’s Lot are at The Barge on Honey-Street.

There’s funky jazz and soul from the Shilts at the Civic in Trowbridge.

The Mark Harrison Band at The Rondo Theatre, Bath.

2 Sick Monkeys headline The Vic in Swindon, with Borrowed Time, The Liabilities and Room 10, while The Music of Meatloaf can be found at The Wyvern Theatre with Hits Out of Hell.

George Egg’s Set Menu at Pound Arts, Corsham. The South play the Cheese & Grain in Frome, with A Band Called Malice at The Tree House.


Saturday 20th: Find a 75-minute chaotic journey through the minds of two dudes; Jack & Jordan at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes, Lazy Dog Comedy comes to Devizes Con Club, and some edgy folk from Caute’s Plastic Army at the Southgate.

The Travis Waltons at Heartwork at The Pump, Trowbridge, the wonderful Strange Folk play Stallards, and Marty’s Fake Family at the Wiltshire Yeoman.

The Hi Fi’s at Melksham Rock ‘n’ Roll Club, Triple JD Band at The Constitutional Club in Chippenham.

Homer at The Baker’s Arms, Swindon, The Roughcut Rebels at the Swiss Chalet, Faux Fighters at The Vic, Tim Vine’s Breeep! at The Wyvern Theatre.

The Archive of Dread at Rondo Theatre, Bath, with Blurt at The Bell Inn, and Ricky Cool and the In Crowd at Chapel Arts.

Mara Simpson at Pound Arts, Corsham.

But I’m seriously thinking of crossing the border for our Editor’s Pick of the Week, Big Country playing the Cheese & Grain, with Spear of Destiny in support, amazeballs! Meanwhile Muse tribute Muze plays the Tree House.


Sunday 21st: you can find the Madhatter’s Wedding Fayre at Devizes Corn Exchange from 11am-3pm. From 5pm in Devizes, find the Eddie Martin Trio at the Southgate.

Jaywalkers at The Bell Inn, Bath.

All for the kids at Swindon Arts Centre with Grooving with Pirates, and Pop Princesses at The Wyvern Theatre.

Illyria presents Robin Hood in an open air performance at the Merlin Theatre, Frome.


Monday 22nd:

Pasha Finn & The Ellipsis at The Bell Inn, Bath, and Monday also kicks off SparkFest at the Mission Theatre, running until 27th May, there’s lots going on there.

Tuesday 23rd:

War of The Worlds at Swindon Arts Centre, Li’l Jim at The Bell Inn in Bath, and an Exhibition on screen at Pound Arts in Corsham, called Tokyo Stories. 

And that’s all folks. Big weekend next time, bank holiday again, and Devizes Street Festival with so much other great stuff going on it’s going to take me until next week to type it all out here! Have a good one, big love, Darren.


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Waiting for Godot @ The Mission Theatre

By Ian Diddams

Images by Playing Up Theatre Company

Samuel Beckett’s existential work is performed in the round this week in Bath’s Mission Theatre, by the Playing Up Theatre Company…..


“Give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves” …. Beckett’s rope is superbly used by the company to great aplomb as it happens. Gogo (Matt Nation) and Didi (Darian Nelson), have no rope to do so whilst wanting to, while Lucky (Sam Fynn) and Pozzo (Jack Strawbridge) do have rope but no suicidal tendencies. Godot naturally never appears although his messenger (Scarlett Nation) delivers his tardy apologies.

These five perform on a traditionally sparse set, with cunning use of lighting for the tree, accompanied by two large rocks and two entrances to frame the action. Heavy winter clothing sets the season. Sophie Brookes’ direction does the rest, ably supported by Richard Chivers’ tech.

“Godot” is fundamentally a five-person, two-hour “monologue”. It’s word heavy, with little flow – “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes”. It has challenging scenes of slavery and abuse. Large parts of it are difficult to fathom. But the company provides a phenomenally slick production that avoids turgidity. This is community theatre at its very finest – professional qualities abounding. All characterisation is stunning, the gibbering loon of Lucky especially – disturbingly – so.

“Godot” ran until Saturday 13th May. The only question you needed to ask is “Shall we go?”. But now like our eponymous heroes… don’t move…


Future productions at the Mission Theatre, Bath, Here.


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The First Ever Devizes Pride Announced

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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 10th-16th May 2023

Okay, the king’s bank holiday is over, put your bunting away it’s turning into soggy mush now! Onwards to what’s happening across Wiltshire this coming week…..

As usual, find info and links on our event calendar HERE. But do check in on the calendar throughout the week as updates will be added when they come in, and are not included here. It’s the conflict between getting this out there as early as possible for tickets to ticketed events, and balancing this with the smaller venues who will sporadically put up a social media post on Thursday night! So, it’s not comprehensive, just a guide, check a check on the calendar. 

Ongoing, lucky you if you have a ticket for the Railway Children at the Wharf Theatre, which is nearly sold out, and running until Saturday. We reviewed it here.

Also find a review HERE for Hail the Curious alternative art exhibit at the newly opened Forbidden Carnival in Chippenham, go see this!

Wednesday 10th, and there’s the usual Acoustic Jam at The Southgate, Devizes.

Anu Vaidyanthan’s BC:AD – (before children, after diapers) at the Rondo Theatre, Bath. Hang Massive at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Broken Robot Production Presents Britain’s Got Talent finalist, Magical Bones at Swindon Arts Centre, and Tony Blackburn brings his Sound of the Sixties to The Wyvern Theatre.


Thursday 11th Spare Snare with Ravetank at The Pump in Trowbridge.

Mark Simmons’ Quip off the Mark at Rondo Theatre, Bath.

Modern Evils & Cosmic Ninja at The Vic in Swindon, Good Habits at the Tuppeny, with Johannes Radebe’s Freedom Unleased at The Wyvern Theatre.


Friday 12th sees The Four Sopranos at Devizes Town Hall, and The Unpredictables at the Condado Lounge. SynthCity plays the Bear in Marlborough.

Bath Festival starts Friday, running until 21st May, lots to see and do there. Rock the Tots are at the Rondo Theatre with some One Hit Wonders. 

ZZ Topped at The Vic in Swindon, Suzie Ruffell at Swindon Arts Centre.

Gary Davis BBC Sounds of the Eighties at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Saturday 13th is the annual Stert Country House car boot sale near Devizes, for Cancer Research. Rock Hoppaz at The Three Crowns, Devizes that evening, The Duskers at The Southgate, Ben Borrill is at the Moonrakers, and Slade tribute Sladest at the Cavalier for a Devizes Scooter Club night. 

Static Moves play The Barge on Honey-Street, Trash Panda at The Lamb, Marlborough, @59 play the Bear.

Scott Doonican’s Bar-Stewards Sons of Val Doonican is at The Pump, Trowbridge; long since sold out I’m afraid; you’ve got to keep scrolling through our event calendar, and be quick!

Dilton Marsh Scarecrow Trail continues Sunday too!

The Green Man Festival in Bradford-on-Avon, free, see poster below.

Simon Munnery’s Trials & Tribulations is at Rondo Theatre, Bath

Alasdair Beckett-King at Swindon Arts Centre.

XSLF at the Tree House in Frome, Eric Bibb at The Cheese & Grain.


Sunday 14th sees Avebury Artisans Market, and a Wellbeing Nature Day at West Lavington, and Jack Grace Band is at the Southgate, Devizes from 5pm.


Monday 15th I have nought, nada, let me know if something crops up!


Tuesday 16th is Poetika 111, The Great Outdoors at The Winchester Gate in Salisbury, 

Anton De Beke & Friends at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, and the Pretenders, yes, I said The Pretenders, at the Cheese & Grain; wowzers, every town needs a cheese and some grain, don’t they?!


Looking forward for needy speedy timely ticket takers, Thursday sees folk dance fusion at the Pump with The Drystones, and Lulu come to Swindon, Jack & Jordan’s Sketch Show at the Wharf in Devizes on Saturday 20th, and Lazy Dog comedy comes to the Devizes Cons Club, Big Country at The Cheese & Grain. So much more going on, all you gotta do is keep scrolling, and have a great week.  

Oh, and of course, there’s this…… whoa Nellie!

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The 9:15 from Oakworth calling at Devizes Wharf Theatre; The Railway Children Reviewed

Images: Chris Watkins Media

Director Freddie Underwood and the cast of The Railway Children absolutely smashed it last night at Devizes’ Wharf Theatre, and that’s coming from someone who doubted it would be their cuppa…..

Said doubt derived from the social expectations and restrictions of my own childhood; aware of the Railway Children film, it just wouldn’t have done to have watched something I’d deem “girly,” and outdated (the film from 1970;) imagine the teasing from my elder brother, and I’d dread to think what would’ve transpired if my school friends found out! Though, at a younger age I relished in children’s period drama, of Enid Blyton, The Velveteen Rabbit, and archaic representations in The Beano comic where teachers still wore mortarboards. But by the grand age of ten plus, there were expectations of me to rather indulge in “boy’s stuff;” The A-Team, Monkey Magic, and a series with a talking car!

Coincidentally, much of the context of the Railway Children deals with social expectations and reputation, yet in a far stricter Edwardian era in which the book was written and set. A fairly affluent London family is uprooted to Yorkshire when the father is unexpectedly taken away by his employers at the Foreign Office. While the mother deals alone with the grief, the social etiquette of keeping the reasons secret from the children only shrouds the affair in mystery. Dealing with newfound poverty and cultural differences between London and the North, the mother and particularly the three children take a few hard-knocked lessons in the mannerisms of the working class.

Yet it is in the misadventures the children engage in, willfully upstanding by all modern reasoning, which the emotional roller coaster evokes the most prevalence and where lessons are sorely learned, yet in turn, sees their father acquitted from the accusations of spying. Not only dealing with the social ethics of the rich/poor and north/south divides, the two eldest children also contend with the issues of coming of age without a father figure.

But its beauty lies not from the genius plot, rather its point of view taken from a children’s innocence perspective. In this, the three children are the only ones allowed to break the fourth wall, as their excitable narration is so cleverly blended with the happenings. It all makes for a highly emotional ambience and thought-provoking mood. With minimal props or effects, the flow feels as imaginative as in the mind of a child. Of course, this couldn’t be carried off with such precision without the need of some top class acting, and herein is the icing on the cake.

The side characters are played enchantingly, Mari Webster as the emotional mother, the kind hearted well-to-do nature of Wharf boss John Winterton as the old gentleman, and the bubbling pomposity of Jon Lewthwaite as the doctor are all played superbly, but it’s within the comical hard-knock mannerisms of station master Perks and the amusing bumbling of the Russian exile Mr Szezcpansky which this play really shines, played with certain skill by Debby Wilkinson and Ellie Mayes respectively.

The play hinges rather on the three protagonists, the children, and, for me, this made it the breathtaking experience it was, plentiful to revert any preconceived doubts on their head and go for broke that this is the best performance I’ve seen at our wonderful Wharf Theatre so far.

Both the eldest child, Bobbie, and middle boy Peter, played immaculately by fifteen year old Katy Pattinson and twelve year old Poppi Lamb-Hughes, just oozes delight and believability by their dedication to the parts and the divine proficiency in which they carry this off. It is with such utter conviction I had to duck back into my car straight afterwards, because as such talented actors it would be impossible to imagine these two as anything but the Edwardian children they were portraying. Ergo, the chance to meet and witness them chatting as usual twenty-first century kids I feared would’ve broken their perfected illusion!

If Bobbie and Peter deal with the conflict of expectations versus growing up and their confusions between what’s right and wrong while everything they expect praise for seems to be returned with reprimand, and equally, anything they seem to do right is hastily turned on its head by the misunderstanding of working class etiquette, the absolute icing on this performance’s cake is without doubt the comical element of the far more carefree youngest child, Phyllis. Influenced by both older brother and sister, she plays the two against each other, and charms all with gusto, wit, and risk taking, just as the typical youngest sibling tends to do!

The mechanics of the part of Phyllis is where this play could have taken a nose-dive, for this surely needs a certain something, a sheer sparkle. And that star is fourteen year old Jessica Self. Simply put, Jessica’s acting ability is sublime, of West-End/Broadway level already. She cam charm when charm is needed, evoke emotion and amuse at the drop of a cue.

Since returning last night I’ve been pondering two possibilities, the first being this part was made for her, but I’m tendering towards the latter possibility, that Jess has the natural skill to become whatever character she is given. I gave thought to the best movie actors, of Dustin Hoffman, of Tom Hanks; how you cannot imagine the persona of the real Tom Hanks through the character he’s playing in each and every film he becomes. I similarly cannot imagine Jessica as being anything like the cheeky girl of Phyllis, rather an imminent actress of boundless talent.

This combination of genius plot, perfect direction and the wonderful acting of particularly Katy, Poppi and Jessica, makes this a delightful, thought-provoking marvel. But you need to hurry as this is near sold out, as expected and deserved.

Another landmark performance at our wonderfully welcoming and devoted little theatre, the pride of arts in Devizes. And if it’s the family oriented ethos you love about it, note it is director Freddie Underwood’s eighth production here, the first time she’s directing her husband Chris, who plays the Father, and of whom she fell in love with during a performance together at the Wharf, and their nine year old daughter Gigi, who is named after said play, and appears in the Railway Children as the child of the station master, Perks; I mean, unless you’ve a grandad you could find a walk-on for to make it a hattrick, you cannot get much more family-felt than that!

Virtual bouquets thrown, then, to all involved with this fantastic show from someone who, if they had Steven Crowder’s “Change My Mind” Campus Sign meme template in the eighties may’ve added “The Railway Children is soppy girly mush!” As you did change my mind, with bells on!

In strict contrast to the synopsis and setting of the Railway Children, the upcoming Girls Like That is the next production I’m advising is unmissable, my preview here. Find all forthcoming events at the Wharf Theatre on our event guide and at their website.


John Watterson Keeps The Music of Jake Thackray Alive, in Pewsey

Chansonnier Yorkshireman Jake Thackray is paid tribute in Pewsey’s Bouverie Hall on May 26th by fellow Yorkshireman John Watterson, aka “Fake Thackray……”

An adopted YorkshiremanJohn Watterson, grew up on the Isle of Man, which is where he first met Jake Thackray in 1975. Recalling the performance at his local folk club, which John explains, “had the audience in stitches,” chatted with a very modest and self-deprecating Jake at the interval, describing him as “a big man and a huge talent, clearly embarrassed by the standing ovation, Jake preferred to have a pint at the bar with the punters and didn’t really see what the fuss was about.”

Influenced by the likes of Jaques Brel and Georges Brassens, Thackray wrote and performed unique folk songs recognisably rooted in the English countryside, at times painfully funny, yet often sad, tragic, rude, irreverent, and incisive, and all these things at the same time. His performances in folk clubs led to appearances on The Frost Report, Braden’s Week and That’s Life. In nearly thirty years of performing he made over 1,000 radio and TV appearances ranging from a topical song in magazine programmes to broadcasts of live concerts on both radio and television. His EMI catalogue produced seven albums between 1967 and 1991.

On learning of Jake’s passing in 2002, John decided that the songs were too good not to be kept alive, so he set about learning more of them. Performing them at a memorial evening in Monmouth, and John is currently researching and writing a biography on Jake with the help of members of the Thackray family. This is where tribute act really takes on a favoured notion of true homage, his appreciation and love of Jake Thackray’s music reflects in this show he has toured with Fairport Convention nation-wide tour, and has performed twenty shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. He has also been delighted to support Ralph McTell, Richard Digance, Vin Garbutt and many more of his music heroes.

Tickets are £12.50, and include a light supper in the interval. Available from Around the World, Woottons and the newsagent in Pewsey (cash only please) Or call 07876 230 540.


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Helen’s Poem on BBC Upload

A quick one from me today, offering our congratulations to our new writer, Helen Edwards from Devizes, who read out her poem “Motherhood,” on BBC Wiltshire this week on James Thomas’s Upload show. “It was fun,” she told us, “except my phone started ringing!”

Listen here from the BBC website, or Soundcloud link, here. I love writing, but poems, hum, something about bacon, not to mention I’m an absolute bag of nerves on radio! The article on the Bournemouth Writing Festival Helen mentioned is here too, and this one worked both ways, also inspiring Helen to write. Well done you, and we look forward to hearing some more soon!  


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Trouble at the Vic, Ant Trouble….

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Avon Vale Hunt Suspended from the British Hounds Sports Association

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Song of the Week: Ajay Srivastav

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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 2nd- 8th May 2023

Whoa, decided today, Thursday, I’d have to start planning this one immediately, because there’s soooo much going on, and all, or mostly all, because of that King bloke, who I just thought had a pop hit in 1984 with “Love & Pride,” but apparently it’s a smidgen more complex than that, the guy is royalty or something. So, grab your celebratory mug, wrap it around your bunting, and let’s have it out now…..

Firstly, I must interject and explain; our article highlighting coronation-related events  received criticism from anti-royalist keyboard warriors who either didn’t digest if bothered at all to read the article, just jumped to conclusions, they did. If you think for one second I’d support a defective archaic institution which uses tax-payer’s money to bail-out nonce family members then you don’t know me at all. I do, however, despite being as anti-royalist as the next anti-royalist, support the Coronation for all the local entertainers and small businesses which will benefit from getting bookings, only a couple of short years after having no revenue at all. So, wind your neck in, and I hope that’s cleared that up!

There’s plenty of stuff to do this coming week, if you want flag-waving or not, so let’s drop the subject and get on with listing them. Don’t forget, all links and info can be found on our event guide, and updates through the week will be added, so keep abreast, and up-to-date; this article is not conclusive.


Ongoing from Monday 1st to 7th May, is the Swindon Festival of Literature; lots happening there worth checking out.


Opening night for Zog at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, on Tuesday 2nd, and running until Thursday 4th, family entertainment based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.


Wednesday 3rd, is the regular Acoustic Jam at The Southgate, Devizes.

Seeds of Memories is a wistful and uplifting show packed to the brim with puppetry and poetry. It offers a gentle exploration of losing a loved one and dealing with grief through the magic of the memories they leave behind, and it’s at the Rondo Theatre, Bath.


Thursday 4th: Sees Derailer & Dangermind at The Vic, Swindon, the Hothouse Flowers at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, and some raw, open and honest but most importantly…funny comedy at the Rondo Theatre, Bath with Richard Hardisty’s Silly Boy.


Friday 5th: and King Charles Coronation kicks off, with a school art exhibition at St Peters Marlborough, events at Hilperton Village Hall, and the Junkyard Dogs are in Bromham.

The Blackheart Orchestra are at the Pump in Trowbridge, Sack Sabbath tribute at The Vic, Swindon. A homecoming for Will Lawton & The Alchemists at Malmesbury Town Hall. Six O’clock Circus at The Three Crowns, Devizes.

Rock For Heroes at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, and an extra show for John Kearns’ The Varnishing Days at Rondo Theatre, Bath.


Saturday 6th: Wiltshire Farmers’ Market in Devizes.

King Charles Coronation continues, you’ll find live music from 4pm at The Crown, Bishops Cannings with White Horses, Tom Davis & The Bluebirds, and Plan of Action, other events include Urchfont, Picnic in the Park at King George’s Playing Fields in Melksham, Coronation Live Screening at John Coles Park, Chippenham, at Foxham Reading Room, Seend Village Community Centre, The Parade Cinema in Marlborough, The Cooper’s Arms Pewsey have a great music programme, in Westbury Be Like Will are at The Players, and Westbury Cons Club has a party too. Picnic in the Park at The Rec in Calne from 10am-9pm, looks amazing, Coronation Celebrations at Devizes Market Place from 10:30-4pm.

Away from all that, find the Leon Daye Band at The Southgate, Devizes, and Kyla Brox Band at Long Street Blues Club; it’s all too royal with cheese for me, so yeah, Kyla Brox, Long Street you got my Editor’s Pick of the Week, hands down!

Acoustic punk band, Abdoujaparov of ex-Carter USM guitarist Les Carter headline the Pump, Trowbridge, with support from former Browfort frontwoman, Claire Kearley, and “Song for Trowbridge” hero Gavin Osborn.

Rammlied at The Vic, Swindon, Sonic Alert at the Queens Tap, Homer at The Sun in Coate, Rosie Holt’s Woman’s Hour at The Wyvern Theatre.

Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart take the Cheese & Grain, Frome, nice.


Sunday 7th: King Charles Coronation celebrations at Ogbourne St George Primary school, Ludgershall, All Cannings with Alfred’s Tower, Rowde with People Like Us, Parade House Trowbridge, and Spring in the Park at Westbury. Devizes Town Band have a coronation concert at the Corn Exchange, called Animal Magic.

Unmissable monthly jaunt for Jon Amor & Guests at The Southgate, Devizes. Phil Samuel’s The George Michael Experience is at the Bridge Inn, Horton, Devizes.

Open Mic night at the Barge on Honey Street.

The King’s Reggae at The Castle & Ball, Marlborough, with Razah-I Fi; ding!

Courting Ghosts & Becky Lawrence are at The Stallards Inn, Trowbridge.

Sour Apple at The Kings Arms, Amesbury.

Blues Jam at The Vic, Swindon.

Magpie Market at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Monday 8th: King Charles Coronation at The Crown in Bishops Cannings with Illingworth, also a Produce Show at The Village Hall.

By the time you read this I’m predicting it a sell-out, but worth checking, opening night for The Railway Children The Wharf Theatre, Devizes, running until 13th May.


Tuesday 9th: Seven Drunken Nights at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.


And that’s your lot, enough for you to do?! Here’s to the king, let us hope his reign is long and healthy, even if only so I don’t have to type all that for one weekend again for a while!!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 25th April – 1st May 2023

Hey, how’s you? Ah, been better, been worse, thanks for asking. Here’s what we’ve found to be doing over this coming week…….

All links, info and updates can be found on our event calendar. Other incoming events will be added there when we discover them, so do check in later in the week. For now though…. 


Tuesday 25th April:

Deadlight Dance on the Radio! Yes, Marlborough’s goth-rock duo Deadlight Dance will be live and chatting to Peggy on Don’t Stop the Music Show tonight, on Swindon 105.

Staying in Swindon, The Cavern Beatles pay The Wyvern Theatre.

And there’s the regular jazz night at il Fiume in Bradford-on-Avon, with the Graham Dent Trio.


Wednesday 26th:

Acoustic Jam at The Southgate, Devizes.

Sirius Chau at Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon.

Running until 29th April, opening night for Julius Caesar at Rondo Theatre, Bath.

Also Running until 29th, Phoenix Players presents The Business Of Murder at Swindon Arts Centre.


Thursday 27th:

 Open Mic night at Stallards, in Trowbridge. 

Alex Lipinski and The Crown Electric & Matt Owens and The Delusional Vanity Project at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Mr Love & Justice play The Tuppenny, Swindon, while there’s a Chuckles Comedy Club at Meca, and The Diana Ross Story at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon


Friday 28th:

Marillion tribute Marquee Square Heroes play the entire Script For A Jesters Tear for its 40th anniversary at Marlborough Town FC. Laurence plays Motown and soul classics at The Castle & Ball.

It’s The Final of Take the Stage 2023 at The Neeld, Chippenham, and Mr Love & Justice play The Old Road Tavern.

A Moroccan Banquet at Trowbridge Town Hall.

Billie Bottle’s Temple of Shibboleth – Solarference at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, while Brake Lights play The Boathouse.

Tribute to Bonnie Raitt at Chapel Arts, Bath,The First Raitt Band. 

Oasish & Stereotonics at The Vic in Swindon, The Illegal Eagles at The Wyvern Theatre.

The Big Excuse: Featuring Solcura, Bit Bigger, and Big Dog at 23 Bath Street, Frome, and the Toasters play The Cheese & Grain.


Saturday 29th:

Is Seend Beer Festival, also the start of Urchfont Scarecrow Festival, which is running until Monday.

Mr Love & Justice is at The Southgate, Devizes, Ben Borrill at the Moonrakers.

The Duskers at The Barge on Honey-Street.

Barrelhouse plays The Bear in Marlborough.

The Woodbridge, Pewsey has a hog roast with live music from The Busy Fools.

From Jovi & Dragoneye at The Wheatsheaf in Calne.

The Upbeat Beatles play The Civic in Trowbridge, sold out already at The Pump for Carsick with support from Nothing Rhymes With Orange and Meg.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Masquerade – The Mayor’s Charity Ball at the Neeld, Chippenham.

Operation 77 at the Westbury Cons Club, Local Heroes Inc at Prestbury Sports Club, Warminster.

The Lost Trades return to Wiltshire after a national tour, and play the Hop Inn, Swindon. Meanwhile it’s emo night at The Vic with Black Parade. Paul Young – Behind The Lens at The Wyvern Theatre.

Lucis Choir at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Pop-Up Bowie at Chapel Arts in Bath.

The Cheese & Grain in Frome has Peter Hook & The Light, and Greg Lake tribute Lucky Man at the Tree House.


Sunday 30th:

Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club will be at The Southgate, Devizes from 5pm.

May Day Musical Mayhem at The Talbot Inn, Calne, raising funds for Campaign Against Living Miserably, they have Six O’Clock Circus, Peaky Blinders, One Chord Wonders, Red Light, Absolute Beginners, The Killertones Underground and The Daybreakers.

Family Concert at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon,Noisy Nature with the Magnard Ensemble.

Devil’s Doorbell are live in session at The Electric Bar, Bath

Raver Tots comes to Meca, Swindon, while The Wyvern Theatre has the Ministry of Science.


Monday 1st:

Running until 7th May, Swindon Festival of Literature opens.

Monthly album listening club, The long Player at The Vic, Swindon.


And that’s it, do check out Zog with the kids at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, opening Tuesday 2nd, and running until 4th May. Then we have the King’s Coronation next weekend, lots going on to do with that, and lots happening if you wish to avoid that! Do keep a check up on the calendar. 

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The Railway Children Calls at Devizes’ Wharf Theatre

Pride of the arts in Devizes, The Wharf Theatre say, if you love the story of The Railway Children, first serialised in The London Magazine in 1905 and published as a book in 1906, before being made into the classic 1970 film; then we can assure you that the stage play will not disappoint.

Being honest, it’s a story I’m unfamiliar with, believing, if memory serves me well, there was also a popular TV series of it in the early eighties, but at the time I was cosumed rather by Monkey Magic and The A-Team! I think today, though, I can look upon this with matured eyes and be equally as intrigued by its genius synopsis as those the Wharf deem “lovers” of the story.

Therefore, I’m pleased to highlight that they’re proud to present this renowned story of a prosperous Edwardian family from London, forced into near-penury in the rural north of England, after their Father is falsely imprisoned. Come and meet ‘Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis as they adapt to their new life in the cottage by the railway and join them as they meet someone who might just be able to help them get their happy ending.

Under Freddie Underwood’s direction, this stage adaptation perfectly captures the anxieties and exhilarations of childhood with great tenderness and insight. Adults and children will be enthralled by the heart-warming story and the clever use of imaginative theatricality. This is definitely one ‘not to be missed’…

Running from May 8th to May 13th 2023 @ 7.30pm. As you might predict, tickets are selling well on this already, so I encourage your urgency to snap up a seat.

Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street. For group bookings, please contact hire@wharftheatre.co.uk


National Treasure: Henry Normal Brings New Tour to Devizes

Featured Photo: Richard Davies

Writer, poet, TV & Film producer, founder of the Manchester Poetry Festival (now the Literature festival) and co-founder of the Nottingham Poetry Festival, Henry Normal brings his new tour, Collected Poems and Other Landfill, to The Assembly Rooms in Devizes on Friday 3rd November.….

In June 2017 he was honoured with a special BAFTA for services to Television, credits roll like the ultimate résumé. He co-wrote and script edited the multi-award-winning Mrs Merton show and the spin off series Mrs Merton and Malcolm. He also co-created and co-wrote the first series of The Royle Family. With Steve Coogan he co-wrote the BAFTA winning Paul and Pauline Calf Video Diaries, Coogan’s Run, Tony Ferrino, Doctor Terrible and all three of Steve’s live tours and the film The Parole Officer.

Setting up Baby Cow Productions Ltd in 1990, Henry executive produced all and script edited many of the shows of its 17-and-a-half-year output during his tenure as MD. Highlights of the Baby Cow output during his time include the Oscar nominated film Philomena, I believe in Miracles, Gavin and Stacey, Moone Boy, Uncle, Marion and Geof, Nighty Night, The Mighty Boosh, Red Dwarf, Hunderby, Camping and Alan Partridge.

Since retiring in April 2016, Henry has written and performed eight BBC Radio 4 shows combining comedy, poetry, and stories about family. His tenth show A Normal Home will be recorded on the 18th November 2022 for transmission on the 20th December.

In April 2018, Two Roads publishers released his book of memoirs ‘A Normal Family’ which was written with his wife Angela Pell, drawing on his family experience. It immediately became a best seller on Amazon and has already been reprinted.

Henry performs poetry at Literature Festivals around the UK and has eleven poetry books available from Flapjack Press including the latest entitled Collected Poems Vol.2.

He was recently given an honorary doctorate of letters by Nottingham Trent University, another by Nottingham University and has a beer and a bus named after him in Nottingham!

Support for Henry Normal’s show comes from very special guest British actor, comedian, musician, novelist, and playwright Nigel Planer, perhaps best known for his role as Neil in the BBC comedy The Young Ones and Ralph Filthy in Filthy Rich & Catflap. He has appeared in many West End musicals, including original casts of Evita, Chicago, We Will Rock You, Wicked, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Doors at 7.30pm, on Friday 3rd November. Tickets (£17.50 + booking fee) are available now HERE.


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