The Dinner Party – TITCO @ The Wharf Theatre, Devizes

An Open Love Letter – To TITCO

by Ian Diddams

Most reviews are quite sombre, written in the third person with a degree of distance.  Not this one. It’s time to throw that book away and speak from the heart. This “review” is openly praiseworthy and could even appear sycophantic. Meh. Whatever. It probably is somewhat cringeworthily first person centric – always a no-no. Though I would hasten to add that while I mention “me” and “I” quite a lot the real recipient of attention is most definitely…  “The Invitation Theatre Company” a.k.a TITCO.

Some history.  TITCO was started by Jim and Mary Roberts, in Devizes, back in the 70s, based on a bunch of friends coming together to put on shows others didn’t. They both passed on in time and TITCO “went to sleep” for a while – until resurrected with a passion by Jim and Mary’s daughter Jemma in 2009. Since then, Jemma and her husband Anthony have driven TITCO on in a similar vein to her parents – a bunch of friends putting in shows nobody else does.

There’s one very important word in the above paragraph.  The F-word.

Fast forward to 2022, November. And “The Dinner Party”. It’s been mentioned that this will be the last TITCO show for a while – and the setting of “The Dinner Party” (TDP for future reference!) is a beautifully framed homage of that situation. Set as if in Jemma and Anthony’s home (complete with genuine pictures and wall art from their real home I can testify – plus their lovely dog, Wilson!)  the setting is that of a get together for “Titters” – the members of TITCO.

This is where my review gets personal, and breaks the traditions as explained above. I was invited into the TITCO fold in 2015 for “Pirates of Penzance”, was made a Titter in 2015 and have shared a stage on multiple occasions since then. The rollcall is amazing…  including “Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the World’s” (WOTW)– twice. Driven by Anthony’s pride and joy “The Full Tone Orchestra” (FTO) of course.

So you see, I am part of this amazing company.

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” …  As some bloke once said…
And of course, Sisters (Sister Act 2016!).

Friends.  Friends that come together and create amazing shows.

Which brings us back to TDP. Naturally.

So, the bunch of friends meeting for a dinner party naturally – this being TITCO – leads to spontaneous singing and performing as everybody takes it in turns to entertain the table or sing together in shared beauty. The evening’s menu is a mix of old and new, well-loved songs. From a starter of a few run-a-dub, London based favourites (“Last Night at the Conductors Arms”) onto a main course where some pretty serious singing came out. Promoted from his youthful renditions of Frederick, Sean Andrews gallantly moved into Major General mode – followed shortly after by “Luck Be A Lady Tonight” (A FTO Big Band speciality of his). South Pacific made its appearance (Brief History of Musicals 2015) with a heart rendition from the chaps of “Nothing like a dame” but not until after a spirited, marigolds glove tassel twirling (*cough*) performance of “Wash That Man” !

The revamped TITCO’s first musical – JCS – was paid tribute to with Herod’s song – led by the joyous Tim Hobbs – and the ladies’ exquisite “Could we Start Again Please”? Blood Brothers came to the party also with “Marilyn Monroe” by Ally Moore and an ensemble “Tell Me It’s Not True”. The “big show” additions continued with Chris Worthy singing “Forever Autumn” from WOTW …  but we were also shown little TITCO in-jokes throughout the show. Let’s just say that one Titter is NOT a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan – but succumbed to the (Hot) Mikado’s “The Hour of Gladness” …  good on ya Jemma! The main course came to its end with a couple of light-hearted pieces – “Me and My Shadow” by Chris and Anthony – somewhat a party piece of theirs, truth be told – and a fantastically hilarious version of “Pam” by Tina Duffin.

That wasn’t quite all of the main course though. As an almost surprise and wonderful lets-slip-this-in, one of TITCO’s stalwart accompanists Dominic Irving dueted with Mari Webster on “City of Stars”. Dom is one of those people that can play about a million instruments brilliantly – but I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing him sing – until tonight. Wow. Just – wow….

The night was hurtling towards its conclusion now. Five ensemble pieces completed our pudding course – with tear jerking numbers “Seasons of Love” and “Hallelujah”, and the uplifting and vibrant “Circle of Life”, “From Now On” and “Rhythm of Life”.

Then the dinner party was over, and so the guests wended their way into the night, Jemma said good night to Anthony…  who called Wilson into the garden.

Lights Out.

I started this review saying this was an open love letter to TITCO.  And it is. From your invitation in 2015 until today as a company TITCO has shown me friendship, inclusion, and provided me with every opportunity I could want in TITCO shows – and allowed me to run the show bars!.  From a somewhat fay pirate (Pirates of Penzance), to a mobster (Sister Act), The Voice of Humanity (WOTW – twice), to cow & narrator (the “cowrator” in “Into the Woods”), Albert the publican (Last night at the Conductor’s Arms ), then a hectic seven characters and twelve costume changes plus ladder climbing in two hours (Spamalot). And of course ensemble singing and solos in concerts and the FullTone Music Festival. You built me. I’ve done amazing shows with other companies, but TITCO built me. And I thank you.

I wasn’t involved in tonight’s Dinner Party – a medical procedure (a good one I hasten to add!) precluded my involvement. But I sat in the audience, watching my friends deliver another polished smooth performance. Under my breath I sang with them. I laughed at the little in-jokes. I wanted to be there with them – but then I couldn’t have enjoyed their joie-de-vivre, seen the love, the friendship oozing from their every pore. As a sign said on stage “Friends are the greatest gift in life”.

Chapeau TITCO. I raise my walking stick to you all tonight.

A final word (or ten…).  This is “the last TITCO show for a while”.  So I just want to say as I sign off my open love letter is…

From Now On …  Could we Start Again Please.

Love you all

Didds
xxxx


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 17th – 23rd November 2022

Got a proper soaking this morning, fat lot of good it is whinging to you about it, you are here only for the lowdown on autumn happenings this coming week, so I’ll waste no time waffling, don’t worry about me, yeah, yeah, I’ll be fine!

Currently up and running, until Saturday, is TITCO’s Dinner Party at The Wharf Theatre.

Staying in Devizes, Thursday 17th sees the opening of the historic event, Devizes Eisteddfod. Here’s the place to find future local stars of the arts, a five-day festival of over 400 classes of music, speech, drama, dance, writing, art, photography, and composition, for people of all ages, who may enter individually or through a school or group. There are competitive and non-competitive classes. The Music, Speech and Drama classes will be held in Devizes Town Hall. Find out more HERE.

Over in Bradford-on-Avon, check out Dylan Smith who has an official launch gig for his Cruel to be Kind album at The Boathouse.

Also find Ezio playing Chapel Arts, Bath. And for some doom metal and stoner rock, try a double-header at The Vic, Swindon, with Phantom Droid and Dark Prophecy.


Friday 18th is Marlborough’s Christmas Light Switch-On.

After The Rocky Horror Experience, Soul II Soul’s Feel Free Tour comes to Meca. Yes, I said Soul II Soul, wowzers! But if you’ve no tickets get in or check the alternatives in Swindon; The Beverley May Band at The Sun Inn, Coate, Splat the Rat play The Hop Inn for Swindon Folk Club.

In Devizes, it’s pub quiz time in aid of Arts Together at the Cavalier, and I’ve got to recommend the highly entertaining Blondie & Ska duo, who play The Pelican. Chippenham duo, as it says on the tin, do Blondie covers but also include those Two-Tone classics, in a kind of fashion you’d wished Blondie covered them; it’s lots of fun. In fact, it was going to be editor’s pick of the week! UPDATE: sorry to hear this has been cancelled. Postponed until 3rd February.

Drag Show at the Neeld, Chippenham, with The Dazzling Diamonds. Limehouse Lizzy at Salisbury Arts Centre.

After N’Famady Kouyate at Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon, they’ve got something on my hitlist, the acclaimed Moments of Pleasure, a Kate Bush tribute. Meanwhile, it’s bonkers at The Three Horseshoes with a triple bill of Hell Death Fury, Lone Sharks, & Monkish.

Craig Charles is on the wheels of steel at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Richard Norris plays sister venue, The Tree House.


Saturday 19th, kids, Lego Club, at Chippenham Museum from 3-4pm. I know I keep mentioning this regular event, but I love the sound of it, wish there was a Lego club when I was a kid, and well, I might go one day anyway. My own kids will be like, “dad, I need a lift to my science book writer’s guild annual general meeting,” and I’ll be like, “fat chance, I’m off to Lego Club!”

Find handmade jewellery, woodwork, hand-poured candles, scented soap, artwork, and handbags at the Mynt Image Craft Fair at Devizes Corn Exchange from 10am-4pm. And in the evening find the Hardwicke Circus and The Alex Voysey Trio at Long Street Blues Club; upcoming talent Saturday, sounds tempting, very tempting! UPDATE: being our Editor’s pick of the season has been postponed, this isnew Editor’s pick of week!

The Southgate promises folky blues with S’Go, a new one on me; Deborah tells me, “They’re an eclectic folky blues collective. They played a few crazy tunes in a circle in the middle of the pub once. Everyone loved it, we booked them!” Cannot argue with that. Ye gods, that sounds tempting, very tempting too, what am I to do?!

Night Jar play Woodbrough Social Club, Miranda Sykes’ Show of Hands is at Marlborough Folk Roots, at the Town Hall, and the local favourites, Humdinger play The Lamb, Marlborough.

There’s a Trowbridge Weavers Christmas Market, and Gaz Brookfield plays the Pump, with Heartwork and Be Like Will in support, but I believe it’s sold out, check their website, but be quick on the flux capacitor. You could always head to the Somerset Arms, Semington failing that, where you’ll find The Beverley Maye Band, or The Buckly Rage at the Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon.

The wonderful seven-piece soul band, aptly named Blue Soul Band play the Contsti, in Chippenham, tributes The Faux Fighters at The Vic, Swindon and Coldplace at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Jessica Fostekew’s Wench runs at Salisbury Arts Centre, and that’s your Saturday night.


Sunday 20th. I’ve checked this over and over, and it definitely says, Jazz Sabbath is at the Corn Exchange, Devizes on Sunday, are we sure it’s not Saturday, people? Damn your eyes, that’s a school night!

Also occurring, Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra with Huw Warren at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Clinton Baptiste tour at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, after a record fair, and tribute L1nkn P4rk at The Vic, Swindon.


And that’s your lot, I got nought for Monday and Tuesday, but don’t forget it’s the regular acoustic jam at the Southgate Devizes on Wednesday, 23rd, and Richard Robbins presents Passage of Time at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, there’s a Willow Reindeer Festive Workshop beginning at Salisbury Arts Centre, which runs until 30th, and Matt Deighton is at The Tree House in Frome.


The biggies next week are of course, the Winter Festival and lantern parade in Devizes, Friday, and the start of the Window Wanderland. Saturday sees the second feast at Soup Chick, of Kashmir cuisine, and The Scribes come to Devizes, at the Muck & Dundar. We love the Scribes here at Devizine and are thoroughly looking forward to this; get a ticket!

John Otway at the Pump, Trowbridge on Friday, and The Moscow Drug Club on Saturday, both worthy of your attention. Then, gawd blimey, it’ll be December. I’m trying to keep up and update as regularly as possible, including getting the biggies up for next year. Have a great weekend, keep a check on our event calendar for updates, and planning ahead.


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REVIEW – Picnic At Hanging Rock @ Wharf Theatre, Devizes – Monday 31st October 2022

Strange Happenings

Andy Fawthrop

A wet and windy Halloween night was quite an odd elemental preparation for going to see this atmospheric play.  Set in the wide-open spaces and searing heat of 1900 Southern Australia, the tight confines of our lovely little Wharf Theatre seemed as if it would present a stretch of the imagination just a step too far.  But not a bit of it, and Director Debby Wilkinson had done a marvellous job in transforming the obvious physical limitations of a small stage into a much bigger canvas.

The plot of this mystery tale, rumoured to be loosely based on real events, is initially quite straightforward.  On St Valentine’s Day in 1900, a group of schoolgirls from Appleyard College set out for a picnic at Hanging Rock, a volcanic beauty spot in rural Victoria.  After their picnic, a group of the girls climb into the blaze of the afternoon sun.  But their idyllic day turns to tragedy as three of their number inexplicably vanish, never to be seen again.  The complexities then arise.  Despite extensive searching, no bodies are found.  Questions begin to be asked, and the answers are rarely forthcoming.  Back-stories and under-currents are discovered.  Memories differ.  Uncertainly prevails.  We begin to understand that, in fact, there are many things that we do not understand.

Using just five female actors to both narrate and to act out the story, there is little room for manoeuvre.  We are compelled to use our own imaginations to fill in many of the blanks.  The bare, stripped-back set, and the use of virtually no props, only serves to reinforce the bleakness and emptiness of the rough landscape.  We are taken through the disappearance and its aftermath, its many layers of uncertainty and a whole range of contrasts – truth and lies, light and dark, dreams and nightmares, the real and the imaginary, and the unsettling way in which facts seem to simply dissolve into nothingness. The open-ness of the great outdoors is set against the stifling atmosphere of the school, and the claustrophobia of the rules of genteel society.

This was a wonderful cast.  There were five very strong, word-perfect performances from Helen Langford, Imogen Riley, Louise Peak, Lucy Upward and Cassidy Hill.  Their pace and movement around the stage, as one role melted into another, was confident and assured.  Their ability to switch genders, voices, tones and attitudes was excellent.  Without apparent effort, they immersed you in both the story itself and into the motives and feelings of the different characters.  Totally convincing and professional throughout.  Top work.

The adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s original 1967 novel by Tom Wright is a tautly pared-back affair, yet there is no loss of poetic and lyrical language.  Previous film and TV adaptations have had the luxury of using the great Australian landscape as their background, but here it all had to be in the language and the acting.  And the five actors absolutely nailed it.  The sense of mystery was never lost, and the audience were bound in.

This is exactly the sort of production that the Wharf excels at.  The stage and the arena are, by many standards, very small.  There’s always going to be a skill in selecting the right productions and using the best directors to make the best of these limitations.  Picnic At Hanging Rock is absolutely one of those productions. Please go and see it.   This production is excellent and fully deserves your support – you won’t be disappointed!   The production runs from tonight (Tuesday) through to Saturday 5th November at 7.30pm each evening.  Book your tickets HERE

Future productions at The Wharf Theatre:

Mon 14th – Sat 19th Sept                                TITCo Evening of Musical Theatre

Fri 8th – Sat 17th Dec                                        Little Red Riding Hood

Mon 30th Jan – Sat 4th Feb                            Ladies Day

For all information about The Wharf Theatre and its productions go to www.wharftheatre.co.uk


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 26th Oct – 2nd Nov 2022

So, Rishi Sunak is prime minister, eh, how about that for diversity? Last time, a woman, of sorts, now an Asian chap. A tax-avoiding billionaire Asian chap with a name which sounds like a brand of orange fizzy-pop, but one nonetheless. You’ve got to wonder who it’ll be next week.

My money is on a Klingon, but I must commend the Tories, seems they’re not quite as prejudice as Nazis after all. It doesn’t matter, age, gender, race or religion; providing you’re working class they’ll shit on all of us from a-high, but with a degree of equality.

It would’ve been nice if Liz Truss could’ve stuck around for another week, if only for topical pumpkin carving purposes, because yes, it is the ancient American-over-commercialised Gaelic feast of Samhain, or Halloween to Christian cultural thieves.

After a family outing to pick our own pumpkins on a farm near Rowde in torrential rain last Saturday, confirming I married into a rural family, and kids who consider themselves too matured to trick or treat, I’d like to go out on creepy tiles (see editor’s pick of the week) but tickets are being grabbed fast, and I’m not sure how I’ll feel by the weekend after being brutally attacked last Saturday by a hanging basket.

Where were Wiltshire Police when the attack took place, you cry? Nowhere to be seen, that’s where. Typical, and that hanging basket is still at large somewhere, be warned. Needless to say, I sustained a surprisingly substantial head injury, though not the reason I’m talking complete toilet; I’m always like this.

I did manage to see a doctor. After a reply I pre-empted to be a telephone appointment sometime in May 2023, going by social media rants, I was invited to Southbroom surgery faster than I could change out of my Paddington jimmy-jams, and within the hour I was let back on the street. Not forgoing I retain a sore head with bolts of pain shooting through it upon the slightest of movement, but I’m after no sympathy. It’s the worry of 50 coming like a rocket over the hill at me. Any previous age and I’d have been, like, ah, just a bump to the noggin, be right as reign come morning. But now, any slight aliment and I’m drafting my bucket list; though I’d suspect Kylie Minogue won’t respond favourably in any case.

Onwards with what’s happening this creepy weekend, before I dose myself in more paracetamol. As usual the only link you need for more info and tickets is our event calendar HERE. If there’s stuff going on I’ve not mentioned below, stay tuned to the guide as I might yet update it through the week, and if it’s your event I missed, that’s likely because you didn’t tell me about it.

Wednesday 26th, and it’s the White Horse Opera’s opening night of L’elisir d’amore at Lavington School, which runs until 29th. And the Rondo Theatre, Bath has Female Transport, also running the same dates.


On Thursday 27th Devizes Lgbtq+ hold their Drag Queen Bingo, Halloqueen Edition at The Exchange in Devizes, which was a sell-out last time, so get in quick.

Find reggae at Level III, Swindon with the Erin Bardwell Three, and Grim Slickers at The Vic.


Friday 28th, Halloween Family Disco at The Neeld, Chippenham. LGBTQ+ Halloween night at The Exchange, Devizes.

Violin, rapper and loop artist, Mike Dennis is at The Pump, Trowbridge.

Bit confused as I’ve a poster from the Specialised Project, advertising Monkey Ska at the Vic, Swindon, but listings show Getrz, Vicuals and I See Orange playing there too, so perhaps the first one has been cancelled, unsure. The Terraplanes Blues Band play the Rolleston Arms, though, that much I do know!

Also find Barnstormers Comedy at Salisbury Arts Centre, Muze at The Tree House, Frome, while The Freddie & Queen Experience are at the Cheese & Grain.


Saturday 29th, everything is awesome at Chippenham Museum’s Lego Club, 3-4pm every Saturday. It’s Autumn in the Park at Hillworth in Devizes, see poster, and St John’s Michaelmas Fayre too.

Getting very Halloween now, with Halloween Karaoke at The Pelican Inn, Devizes, Devizes Scooter Club’s Skalloween at the Cavalier, a Halloween party with DJ James Therelfall at the Muck & Dunder, Thriller Halloween party at the Exchange, and The Monster Ball at Melksham Assembly Hall.

Kind of optional creepy fancy dress at Editor’s Pick of The Week: The Female of the Species 7th Annual Fundraising Gig at Seend Community Hall.

Tickets are going like hot cakes for this annual extravaganza from our lovely all-female local supergroup, now packing a punch at Seend, so get in quickly, it is always an amazing show.

Away from Halloween vibes, those masters of vintage blues, Barrelhouse play The Southgate, Devizes, Trash Panda, The Bastard Son of Humdinger & My Mate’s Band play The Coppers Arms, Pewsey. Strange Folk at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon.

Stop Stop at The Vic, Swindon, Judas Rising at the Rolleston.

Congress at Salisbury Cathedral, Spritato – Inspiring Bach at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. Oh, and The Lightning Seeds play The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Sunday 30th, The Innes Sibun Band arrive at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, guaranteed knockout.

Spooky stuff continues as Monday 31st is the opening night for Picnic at Hanging Rock at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes; of which I’m hoping to get a review of out by Monday, or Tuesday latest. Running until 5th November, preview here.

And we’re into November, Wednesday 2nd don’t forget, acoustic jam at the Southgate, Devizes, and Jordan Bak is at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

Keep on scrolling for future fings to do, hopefully I’ll join you real soon, hanging basket though, I ask you, evil hanging basket; why can’t they just plant flowers in the ground like normal folk? They should be brought to justice! Have a good week, the doctor told me to stay off devices and screens, so I’m outta here, going to take up badminton instead, which is an extreme sport to me!


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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 13th -19th October 2022

Here we are again, happy as can be, but slightly older, opps, soz, missed a C, slightly colder! Though we are a week older too, but that means nothing, only as old as you feel. Quite aggravated by chipping ice of the car windscreen this morning though, it’s only October for crying out loud; who do I need to write to about this diabolical travesty?

Still, going out is the new going out, and here’s a lowdown of local stuff to do this coming week. The link you need is HERE, our ever-updating event calendar; you know the score by now.


There’s Craft and Chat at Chippenham Library on Thursday 13th October, and Beauty the Beast: The Guardians of the Forest at the Neeld.

Meanwhile lots still happening at the Calne Music & Arts Festival, with the Music Scholars of St. Mary’s School, Calne, The Primary School Choirs present: ‘Songs from Disney’, Kingsbury Green Academy Music Department in Concert and Tim Hughes presents ‘120 years of the Blues.’

Dick and Dom, yes, I did say Dick and Dom, are in Da Bungalow at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Mitch Benn’s It’s About Time tour takes to the Rondo Theatre, Bath.


Friday 14th, there’s an instore session at Sound Knowledge, Marlborough with Rachael Dadd. Sour Apple at The Condado Lounge, Devizes, while Illingworth play The Three Crowns, and Funked Up funk up the Pelican. But all eyes will on the Corn Exchange in Devizes when Longcroft Productions presents the all-female Black Sabbath tribute, Black Sabbitch; if it’s good enough for Dave Grohl it’s good enough for us!

DJ Stevie Mc holds the afterparty at the Exchange below, Friday nights is retro 80s,90s,00s night, free entry before 11pm.

Calne Music & Arts Festival has a piano recital from Helen Davies, and an evening of traditional Andalusian guitar and flamenco dance.

The astounding acoustic rave act, The Showhawk Duo plays Salisbury Arts Centre, while Erlestoke Golf Club has Barry Paull as Elvis!

Billy in the Lowground at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, The Derellas & Liabilities at The Vic, Swindon, The Chesterfields & Mighty One at the Tree House, Frome, while the Rhythm of the 90s bang out at The Cheese & Grain; sorted.

Impromptu Shakespeare at Rondo Theatre, Bath.


Moving on up to Saturday 15th, when the big Marlborough Mop Fair hits, with Grey Smith at The Bear.

Rockhoppaz at The Southgate, Devizes. Exchange has resident DJ Stevie Mc in the mix. Mick Jogger & The Stones Experience are at Steeple Ashton Village Hall, tickets £15 from their village shop.

Lego Club, never forget Lego Club at the everything-is-awesome Chippenham Museum, 3-4pm, every Saturday. While Wiltshire Museum, Devizes has a Building Materials conference on Industrial Archaeology.

Trowbridge has their annual Apple Festival at Emmanuel’s Yard, while NerveEndings play the Pump, with support from The Sunnies; ah yes, loud and proud.

Over in Swindon, the long-awaited Swindon Paint Fest begins; really good this looks, for all street art fans, head into Swindon Centre over the weekend. And The Moonrakers has The Specialized Project holding a ska fest too. Peloton play The Vic, and Hip Replacements at The Woodland Edge.

Tributes in Chippenham, The Tom Petty Legacy at the Neeld, and The Beatles for Sale at The Pewsham.

Siren plays The Talbot, Calne, which leads me nicely onto my editor’s pick of the week, in a minute, because the Calne Music & Arts Festival reaches its crowning, after Chris Dunn and Genevieve Sioka have a ‘Meet the Artist’ session, and a Photographic Talk titled ‘Down the Mekong, Cambodia and Vietnam’ the grand finale is my editor’s pick of the week……

Editor’s pick of the week……

Concrete Prairie at Marden Hall, Calne

My new favourite thing, Concrete Prairie will be at Marden Hall, Calne as part of the Calne Music & Arts Festival, for a full set. It’s a tenner, seated event, which is going to be tricky if I go, I might just break into my jig down the aisle! Review of their album here.

Anyway, Apache Smoke at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, Ion Maiden at The Tree House, Frome, while eighties electronica band Blancmange play The Cheese & Grain; no, never heard of them, far too young!!

Mitch Benn is at Salisbury Arts Centre today, and Rob Auton’s The Crowd Show is at Rondo Theatre, Bath.


I mean, there might be more added as time goes on, but that’s all I got for now; smaller venues, please submit your event listings to us asap, as you are the important ones which we really need to get the information out about. If you make me come find you on social media it never works, because I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really narked off about social media at the moment!


Sunday 16th, then, and Wiltshire Soul & Blues Club have their exclusive monthly jam at the Owl Lodge, Swindon Paint Fest continues, and sax lovers, do check Guinea Lane Saxophones, Pewsey Players and Take Five at Pewsey Heritage Centre.

Highly recommended, Jack Grace Band at the Southgate, Devizss and The James Oliver Band plays The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and Blackbeard’s Tea Party and Imprints at The Winchester Gate, Salisbury.

Frome Wessex Camera Fair at The Cheese & Grain, with Ned Boulting in the evening.


Monday, I got nought, but nobody likes Mondays anyway. Ban them, ban them all now!!

Tuesday 18th, Assassins opens at Rondo Theatre, Bath, runs until 21st October, Good Luck, Studio at Salisbury Playhouse, and legendary folk at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, with Steeleye Span.

Wednesday 19th, and Swindon’s dub reggae outfit Subject A are live at the Bell on Walcot Street, Bath, Beth Nielson Chapman at The Cheese & Grain, Frome and don’t forget, Wednesday evening acoustic jam at the Southgate, Devizes, ah, yes.

Have a good week, don’t work too hard; that is a direct order!



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Picnic at Hanging Rock, Via The Wharf Theatre

Opening on Halloween and ending on Guy Fawkes Night, the next production at Devizes Wharf Theatre promises to be a mysteriously eerie….

Written by Joan Lindsay adapted by Tom Wright and directed by Debby Wilkinson, Picnic at Hanging Rock takes place on St Valentine’s Day in 1900, when a group of schoolgirls from Appleyard College set out for a picnic at Hanging Rock, a volcanic beauty spot in rural Victoria, Australia.

After lunch some of them climb into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of the rock.  However, their idyllic day turns into a nightmare when three of their number inexplicably vanish, never to be seen again.

The question remains and intrigues audiences to this day – is the plot an eerie re-telling of a real event?  ‘Hanging Rock’ exists, as do the surrounding towns mentioned; the boarding school is loosely based on Clyde Girls’ Grammar School in Melbourne, which the author attended and there was reportedly a case of two girls who went missing in the 1800’s.  Or could it be that the author simply dreamt the plot, as she once said? Shrouded in mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock remains a firm favourite with film and theatre audiences alike.

In this Wharf production five female narrators perform all parts and recount the mystery of the disappearance and looming hysteria as the illusion of genteel society is torn apart. Tom Wright’s adaptation pares down the events and uses evocative and poetic language to create an edgy and mysterious play and Debby Wilkinson’s incredibly strong cast bring a wealth of experience and talent.

Get your tickets here, before they mysterious disappear!


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 6th -12th October 2022

Here’s what we’ve found to do round and about Wiltshire this coming week, unless you like staying home, scowling at your electric smart meter as it ticks down pounds like a stopwatch attached to a timebomb.…..

In a week where our illustrious MP Danny K’s words of reassurance blazed a rim-job op-ed in the trustworthy journal Gazelle & Herod, that we need not worry, he doesn’t think the illusory budget car-crash will affect votes for the Conservative Party next election, and he’s probably right too, there’s much slander of opposition to be done, lots of backhanding persuasive mainstream media to convince you starving to death is all for the best for Britain.

One point I would like to make, for all in Devizes, is we are saddened to hear about the violence last Saturday. Devizine is not here to report such incidents, but we wish the victims well. I was shocked, though, by the Gazette’s completely superfluous reasoning to use a stock image of the British Lion free house, as the event did NOT even happen there, rather further along the road.

If a bike was nicked in the same area, would they post a piccy of Bikes N Boards, or if a dog bit a cat, would they pin it on the vets? What if a Hawaiian pizza started chucking its pineapple onto an unsuspecting pepperoni one, would they launch an attack on Dominoes?! I hope you get my point, The British Lion is a wonderful pub, and for numerous times I’ve visited, over decades, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never once seen the slightest bit of trouble there, not so much as one fellow tickling another inappropriately with a feather! The British is a great and safe pub, don’t be persuaded by wonky journalism, they didn’t even get the name right and called it the Red Lion, for crying out loud into a sick bucket!     

These days, provided you take Shanks’s pony, it’s probably cheaper to go out than heat your home, so on we go. Don’t forget all details and links can be found on our magical updating event calendar, HERE.

And just to note, my plug-in crystal ball is whacking up leccy bill, so excuse me if I didn’t have a premonition of your event, perhaps tell me about next time, eh?! It’s free to be here, we’re all friends…. most of the time. Of the few Karens I did joyfully nark on Facebook this week, one had the audacity of calling me a snob, which was so funny I had to get all Iain Wallis on her!


Now I’m waffling, don’t mind me. Thursday 6th October, find Jambon Chapeau, a new duo of Mike Pickering and Derrick Jepson of Paradox at the Three Crowns, Devizes for a Fantasy Radio Live Lounge from 7-9pm.

Chippenham Community Conference in the Neeld. Two days of guest speakers, networking, priority setting and celebrating the work of the community and voluntary sector in the Chippenham area.

If not, The Moscow Drug Club play The Cheese & Grain, Frome; you may’ve seen these guys at Devizes Arts Festival.


Friday 7th and Calne Music & Arts Festival opens, a fortnight with lots going on, and ending next Saturday with the amazing Concrete Prairie, more on individual events with this as we go.  

 The London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra play at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes, and staying in town there’s options, options, people.

Sheer Music is back in town with a freebie at The Exchange, our very own NervEndings with Lucky Number 7; that will be loud, and I’ve rumour you might be able to remain hiding in a corner when the nightclub kicks in afterwards!

Meanwhile the wonderful Sour Apple play at The Pelican, a gig postponed after the Queen’s Funeral.

Over in Trowbridge, Jol Rose supports the Often Herd at the Pump, while The Soul Strutters strut to The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, tribute All Floyd play Salisbury Arts Centre, and Beatles tribute the Prefab Four play The Vic, Swindon.

Staying in Swindon, Coleview Music Festival has sold out for the Saturday, but there’s still some Friday tickets and Sunday is pay on the door with families’ welcome. Friday has Go Span Duran, Tasha Leaper as Madonna and Talk in Code, Sunday find Pink Mac, Splat the Rat, Disco Dollz and Busy Fools.


Saturday 8th, and Chippenham Museum’s Lego Club is from 3-4pm, every Saturday. Happy 40th to The Royal Wotton Bassett Orchestra, who play at St Bartholomew’s Church.

The first Mop Fair in Marlborough, the following is next Saturday 15th.

Time for some Long Street Blues Club in Devizes, when Eddie Martin brings his full Big Blues Band to the Conservative Club. Over the road, the wonderful The Hoo-Doos play The Southgate. Things promise to get ska, a little way down the hill, at Potterne Social Club, when Andy McGowan does his One-Man Nutty Boys Tribute.

The Britpop Boys are booked to play The Consti Club, Chippenham, but do check ahead on this one, The Consti Club have been going through some changes, have sadly axed some event organisers from their books, and I’m not to speculate the reasoning, but some events might not be going ahead. Back to Calne Music & Arts Festival, they have a Family Day, and Opera Anywhere presents The Magic Flute.

In Trowbridge the Pump presents the Finn Collinson Band, and Sonic Alert are at Stallards. The Blunders at the trusty The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and if you’re in Bath, well, I’d highly recommend Rosalie Cunningham at Bath Arts Centre.

The Rondo Theatre has an Andrew O’Neill tour, with the strapline, “we are not in the least bit afraid of ruins; we carry a new world in our hearts.” Jen Brister tour, The Optimist at Salisbury Arts Centre.

Mad Dog McRea at The Cheese & Grain, and Sweet Machine at Tree House, Frome.

Operation 77 @ The Woodland Edge, Swindon, and staying in Swindon, do check FatFest at Level III. Fatfest rock event is in support of Fatboy’s Charity, raising money to help kids dealing with cancer and leukaemia. Confirmed to appear so far are Dan Reed Trio, Revival Black, Twister and local band Fall From Ruin.


Onto Sunday the 9th, and Pewsham Scarecrow Trail begins, The Worried Men play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and Herman Dune plays The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

For Calne Music & Arts Festival, there’s The Serenata Guitar Trio, and Even Song at St. Mary’s Parish Church. The festival continues Monday, with The Yehudi Menuhin School In Concert, The Kassia Trio, Louis Stephenson Piano Recital, and a Drink & Draw.


Tuesday 11th and find the regular Improvers Art course at The Cause, Chippenham. Calne Music & Arts Festival brings you Music Scholars of Marlborough College In Concert, and Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow at Marden House.

Bird watchers might like RSPB: Pura Vida – Costa Rica’s Magical Birds at Salisbury Arts Centre.

Wednesday 12th, Calne Music & Arts Festival has the Calne Singers ‘Songs from the Shows,’ and The Roaring Trowmen.

Don’t forget Wednesday night is acoustic jam night at the Southgate Devizes.

Salisbury Playhouse has The Wellspring, and Rondo Theatre, Bath has The Greatest Magician, and no, that’s not Kwasi Kwarteng…. A snob, honestly, did you see them call me that, on the book of Face?! Oh, my years, could you get any less snobby than me, I’m picking my butt crack as I write this shit?! Hey, you have a good weekend now, take care out there.


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Devizes Arts Festival Annouce November Comedy Night with Simon Brodkin

Devizes Arts Festival pokes its head out of its nest this autumn, with a one night only comedy gig on Friday 4th November at the Corn Exchange, headlining Simon Brodkin, the genius who handed Theresa May a P45 at the Conservative Party Conference.

Hilarious at the time, but after three years of Boris Johnson, which felt like thirty, and some new spanner in number ten, I forget her name now, maybe better the devil you know. The stunt put Simon Bodkin on the mainstream comedy map, and heck, I think we all deserve a good laugh right now.

London doctor-turned-comic, and professional hoaxer, Simon Brodkin also showered Sepp Blatter with dollar bills at a FIFA press conference, and is famed for creating quirky characters, such as the annoying chav, Lee Nelson.

Supporting Simon is Stella Graham, a naturally funny stand-up comedian, writer & actor. Shameless, charmingly aggressive and unladylike, she’s the funniest half Sri Lankan gal from Coventry.

Stuart Goldsmith is an absolute top level comedian who has performed all over the world. He’s the regular studio warm-up comic for the Graham Norton Show (BBC), which is apparently even more fun than it sounds!

Compere for the evening is Bristol’s finest, James Redmond, who you might have seen on BBC TV’s West Country Sitcom, The Outlaws. James is a dry, slick and subtle stand up who delivers unexpected twists with a distinct West Country tinge to his routine.

Well good” tickets are just a tenner, live from their website from 3rd October.


Hedda Gabler at the Wharf is Seriously Thought-provoking

Featured Image: Chris Watkins Media

Home after previewing a dress rehearsal at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes last night, I kissed my wife goodnight. She didn’t understand the relevance, but Henrik Ibsen’s magnum opus, Hedda Gabler is one seriously thought-provoking play……

They didn’t have Billy Joel’s doo-wop fad in nineteenth century Norway, see, otherwise the protagonist’s husband, George Tesman could’ve benefitted by taking heed of the lyrics of Tell Her About It, such as the line “let her know how much she means.”

Image: Chris Watkins Media
 

Whereas it’s typical for a fellow to be wilfully pig ignorant in taking their partner for granted, George, played impeccably by Chris Smith, is seemingly oblivious of his psychological man-shed. In modern terminology one might suggest he’s on the autistic spectrum, but definitely, this academic lacks common sense over a work obsession. This is expressed rather amusingly in the opening scene with the assertive “Aunt Ju-Ju,” grandly represented by Jessica Bone.

She interrogates him in pompous nineteenth century mannerisms, in the hope of gaining some pregnancy gossip, but poor old George just doesn’t take the hint any more than Frank Spencer.

Seems he proudly spent his lengthy honeymoon researching for his new book, much to the dismay and rancour of his rather stubborn wife, Hedda, who, longing for a spirit of adventure and drama, finds herself feeling trapped, lonesome and unloved; it’d be an epic fail for Match.com!

Together, her frustrations and his nescient glee, combined with four other exceptionally well-defined characters, twists the kind narrative Ricky Gervais needs to be taking notes from. Character-driven, elements might feel comical at first, but subtle black humour is gradually collapsing into tragedy; such the reason you’ll come away from it realising its stroke of genius.

Image: Chris Watkins Media
 

A feminine Hamlet, perhaps, as the plot thickens to a dramatic climax, but I’ll relax my waffling for fear of spoilers. Though if the plot relies on conflicting characters, this wasn’t the case behind the scenes. Director, Lewis Cowen delighted to tell me the casting immediately fell into place effectively, and indeed this convincing team bounce of each other so well it’d be impossible to extract their real personalities. There’s no way I’m going to attempt to obtain trigger-happy lead role Ange Davis’s phone number, for instance, not after witnessing her sublime expressions of bitterness and contempt for her fellow characters! Her second stint at the Wharf Theatre after appearing in Revlon Girl in March; in layman’s terms, Ange takes on the protagonist roll like a boss.

Pete Wallis wonderfully plays the woeful Eilert Lövborg expressively, personifying the bleeding heart of the artist. With his heart on his sleeve and love for the bottle, he’s easily convinced, but the kingpin to George’s jealousy.

The weak and diffident Thea Elvsted is played to perfection by Anna McGrail, her despair at her broken marriage is paramount to yield Hedda’s vengeance and bullying nature.

Undoubtedly housemaid Bertha, acted subtly but professionally clownish by Merrily Powell, retains the comedy noir while it spirals into tragedy, via her shocked expressions, omniscience but knowing her place to remain silent.

The unscrupulous and advantageous persona of Judge Brack, played sternly by Rob Gill, pitches him as the dark horse, the archetypal baddie, if there has to be one. Rather the depth of all the characters, needy or lusting after Hedda in their own way, here shows far more layers to them then the typically flatness of the Hollywood template.

Image: Chris Watkins Media

For if said template is becoming tiresome for you, you know the sort; a couple or amount of people with conflicting personalities come together with an abhorrence of each other but thrust unwillingly into a set of circumstances find mutual ground and befriend with a happy ending, perhaps you should grab up a ticket for Hedda Gabler, running at the Wharf Theatre from the 19th to the 24th September. Because if the cliche template is a reversible jumper, akin to classics such as Easy Rider or Quadrophenia, this intelligently crafted dark play turns it inside out.

I mean, I’m no theatrical critic, just know what I like, but if the hospitable and non-pretentious Wharf Theatre welcome me to assess such quality productions as this, on our doorstep, I’m game!

If opposites attract, love is calmly discussing and accepting your differences, but the escape clause wasn’t so simple in days of yore, and in the confines of the era’s strict conducts, a terrible entrapment can twist a person; that’s the contemplation I took away with me after this engaging and quality production; go see for yourself.


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 8th-14th September 2022

Slight seasonal changes, wetter but still warm, slight Prime Minister changes, dryer but still a narcissistic numpty; ah well, let’s see, a day later than usual I know and apologise, what’s happening in Wiltshire over the next week……

The one link you need as usual, is our event calendar, where it’s all listed with ticket and info links, and it’s updated (fairly) regularly, so bookmark the beast and remain as you will be after reading this; in the know.  

Thursday 8th and there’s the Swindon Comedy Club at Kioki, with headliner Abi Clarke.

Friday 9th Hedda Gabler begins at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes and runs until 24th September. Hedda Gabler is recognised as one of the world’s great plays written by one of the world’s great playwrights and is generally regarded as Ibsen’s masterpiece. Hedda, on the face of it, is not your archetypal tragic heroine. Starting quietly, and quite humorously, the drama builds to its terrifying and riveting climax, involving the presentation set of pistols that Hedda inherited from her father.

One to watch, Sour Apple play the Pelican in Devizes on Friday, and look out for a new music program called Vamos, at The Old Road Tavern, Chippenham, they’ve got the wonderful Harmony Asia supporting Hoggs Bison. And find Illingworth at The Royal Oak in Marlborough, all free gigs.

“Hurrah, they are back to School” runs the tagline of the end of summer barbeque at Seend Community Centre.

Our renowned house DJ, George G Force is at Marston Park, Frome, while tribute The Smyths play The Cheese & Grain. Festival season hasn’t quite closed yet, it’s The Mucky Weekender Festival at the Winchester Bowl.

Meanwhile, In Swindon, Dangerous Kitchen play The Vic, The Salts at Swindon Arts Centre, and A Country Night in Nashville at the Wyvern Theatre.

Saturday 10th and back by popular demand, the start of the legendary Pewsey Carnival, yay! Procession is next Saturday 17th, with the Wheelbeero race on Thursday 15th, but this Saturday is Pewsey Carnival Wine Race.

Our editor’s pick of the week; Party for Life, Melksham

A world suicide prevention day fundraiser in the Sky Bar at Melksham Town FC. The Soul Strutters, Blind Lemon Experience and Roughcut Rebels play this big one, with DJs and pizza and others; sounds fantastic, we did preview it a while back, and I believe a few tickets are still up for grabs, follow their Facebook page for more details.

Staying in the Sham, The Pilot has a Family fun day with music and, fundraising for MIND, see the poster for details.

Crafts, stalls and entertainment are promised at Devizes Rotary Club’s Health & Wellbeing Showcase on the Small Green from 11am-3pm on Saturday, and for a musical evening in Devizes, rock covers band Black Nasty are at The Southgate, while People Like Us do their awesome thing at the Three Crowns.

Time also, for the Burbage Beer, Cider & Music Festival.

Another upcoming local band to watch is Salisbury indie-kids Carsick, who plan to blow the lid off of Trowbridge Town Hall.

Contrasts in Swindon as Rage Against the Regime play The Vic, while Shape Of You brings the music of Ed Sheeran to the Wyvern Theatre.

You might have caught him at Devizes Arts Festival this summer, Alfie Moore’s show Fair Cop Unleashed comes to Salisbury Arts Centre.

No prizes for guessing who Motorheadache is attributing, they’re at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Dana Gavanski plays their sister venue the Tree House, with Cornelia Murr in support.

And unfortunately, The International Comics Expo, ICE in Birmingham which I’ve still got listed, has been cancelled, I’m just being too lazy to delete it!   

Sunday 11th, after terrible weather last Sunday postponed Devizes Town Band’s Children’s Proms in the Park at Hillworth, it will be combined this week with the planned main Proms in the Park.  

And save a Recital Series at Swindon Arts Centre, also on Sunday, that about wraps it up for the weekend, unless you know different? Unless you dare to tell me that I missed something?! Please do, I don’t bite, at least only a nip, on the bum; it’s free to list stuff on Devizine, just message us, we’re in it for the love.

Through the week I’ve not got much, but you know updates of the event calendar occasionally happens, though I’m currently undergoing the arduous task of getting next year’s calendar up and running, so bear with, bear with.

Tuesday 13th, I’ve got Kaleidoscopic at Salisbury Arts Centre and a RSPB: A Victorian Birder’s Wiltshire at the same venue.

Next week though you can look forward to Pewsey carnival, Swindon Shuffle, and the White Horse Opera is back too, along with lots more events to get your teeth into; I’ll catch you around at one sometime, maybe? What else are you going to do, “Simpsonise” yourself with a phone app; get real?!!


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Wharf Theatre Opens For Autumn/Winter Season with Hedda Gabler

The wonderful Wharf Theatre in Devizes is reopening this month for a new autumn-winter season; I know, don’t say “winter,” not yet!

Hedda Gabler is the first production, running from 19th to 24th September. It’s written by Henrik Ibsen with a translation by Michael Meyer. The Wharf’s chief director, Lewis Cowen is on this one, and it’s the second work of Henrik Ibsen to be performed at our trusty theatre.

In 2007 The Wharf Theatre staged an adaptation of the highly successful ‘A Doll’s House’ by acclaimed Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.  They are now delighted to introduce, perhaps, his greatest work, Hedda Gabler.

Having its world premiere, in Germany 1891, the play initially opened to mixed reviews however, a more sympathetic, naturalistic London production three months later was a triumph. Now considered a masterpiece within the genres of literary realism and 19th century drama it is rarely out of the repertoire of the great theatre companies of the world.

The title character herself remains one of the greatest female dramatic roles and has been portrayed by some of the biggest names in theatre and film, including Ingrid Bergman, Peggy Ashcroft, Dianna Rigg, Geraldine James and, more recently, Sheridan Smith.

Sometimes described as a female version of Hamlet, Hedda is a character firmly set against the backdrop of the Victorian era when women could only achieve success vicariously through the men in their lives. The daughter of a General and national hero, Hedda idolises her Father but harbours her own political ambitions. She attempts to achieve these by influencing firstly her husband and later an admirer

A drama which starts quietly and humorously gradually builds to a riveting and terrifying climax.

Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street……and don’t forget to follow them on Instagram and Twitter


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 1st-7th September 2022

It might not be bank holiday, but it’s not blank holiday, if you see what I mean? Nah, forget it; here’s what’s happening over the next week in Wiltshire.

Pinch punch, Thursday is the first of September, and I’ve got nothing, yet! Do keep a check when updates come into our event calendar, the one link you need for info on all the stuff below and for planning future events.

Friday 2nd is the Wax Palace’s Kaleidoscope Festival in Erlestoke, ravers, there’s also the End of the Road Festival, Salisbury way on the Dorset border, and the Punchbowl Festival in Codford.

Closer to us, The Devizes Living Room has a “bloc-party,” on the Green, all welcome. Potterne Social Club has People Like Us, The Roughcut Rebels play The Barge Inn at Seend Cleeve, Navajo Dogs are at The New Inn, Winterbourne Monkton.

Comedy at The Boathouse, Bradford-on-Avon with Sally-Anne Heywood.

And over in Swindon, you’ll find the Groove Club Collective at The Vic, Mac N Cheese at the Queen’s Tap, and The Total Stone Roses playing Level III.

Saturday 3rd, and it’s the start of Salisbury Art Trail, running until 18th September.

It’s Malmesbury Carnival, the Melksham Food & River Festival, and Tripwire Presents Bristol Comic Con over the weekend. Lego fans check out The Cheese & Grain, Frome where there’s a Lego show and market, Brickin’ It!

Editor’s Pick of The Week

In Devizes it’s Confetti Battle time, and the Colour Rush, yay! No tokens this year, so you will just need to line up to buy you confetti so arrive early to avoid the queues. You’ll still need to line up to collect your confetti prior to the 8pm kick-off.

As far as we know Devizes is the only town in the world that has a Confetti Battle tradition. No one can remember the first official battle but we know its roots date back to the old Devizes Carnival in 1913, where confetti and rose petals were thrown by the crowd at people in the procession. The tradition evolved into a fully-fledged battle around 1955 when it was started by Jim Jennings; should make it my editor’s pick of the of the week really.

This year the Confetti Battle continues to grow and the colourful chaos has been added to with the introduction of the Colour Rush, an amazing 5 km mixed terrain fun run – what better way to arrive at a Confetti Battle than covered in multi-coloured powder!

There is no ‘battle’ as such, just a very silly half-hour during which a lot of fun is had, and a lot of confetti is thrown about. Expect to get ‘attacked’ by complete strangers throwing paper!  The Battle continues to gain popularity and 2017 saw over 3500 people take part. The event takes place at the finish line of our new Colour Rush 5k run so expect to see some exceptionally colourful visitors in the crowd.

Jennings funfair is in the Market Place on Friday 2nd September until Sunday 3rd of September operating between 5.30 pm until 11.00 pm.

The DOCA website says “keep your eyes peeled when collecting your confetti as one lucky person will receive a Golden Ticket in a confetti bag,” it continues so say, “this will entitle…” and then it ends, so I’ve no idea what the golden ticket entitles you to! Maybe they need to keep their eyes peeled on their typos, but I guess they’re too busy making fun for us all, and I, for one, bless them for it.

Staying in Devizes for confetti free events, Jamie R Hawkins will be at The Southgate, while Paradox plays The Cellar Bar of the Bear Hotel. Tamsin Quin plays the Barge on HoneyStreet.

Wiltshire BKA Honey Bee Health Day at Market Lavington, some Carnival Music by Jenny Bracey at The Crown in Aldbourne. Local Heroes Inc play Prestbury Sports Bar, Warminster.

In Swindon Moonwire and Lung at The Vic, Dragon Eye at The Rolleston, Larkhill at the Queens Tap, Echo at Coleview Community Centre and Dreuw & Will Killen at The Hop Inn.

Sunday 4th September, and there’s a RSPCA fun dog show on the Green in Devizes, and the monthly residency of Jon Amor at the Southgate at 5pm, featuring guest Nat Martin.

Composer-pianist and creative coder, Larkhall will be taking his innovative live show to venues across the UK this year, he comes to Schtum in Box on Sunday, and playing Pound Arts in Corsham on the 9th.

White Horse Classic and Vintage Vehicle Show in Westbury, and Minety has a Beer & Cider Festival.  

Rainbow Fest at The Olive Tree Cafe in Swindon, promises crafts, live Music and poetry for £2 entry (under 12 free) with all funds going to charities supporting LGBQIA+. Meanwhile, local acoustic duo Sweet Nightingale play Queens Park.

And that’s your weekend, folks. Monday 5th sees a live art Demonstration by Artist Paul Oakley at Devizes Conservative Club, organised by the Lawrence Society of Art. And that for now is all I have for midweek, but I promise to do some digging and update the event calendar more often, pinky promise.

Okay, that leaves me with stuff to get prepared for, that means buying tickets, dammit! September 10th sees the Party For Life fundraiser at Melksham Town FC, details here, get yourself a ticket for this, raising funds and awareness of Suicide prevention.

Also, the Wharf Theatre opens for its Autumn/winter season with Hedda Gabler running from 9th to the 24th. Bath Children’s Literature Festival, Devizes Food & Drink Festival, Swindon Shuffle and Swindon Folk & Blues Festival; it’s still happening, summer isn’t through…. yet!

And if you’ve still found nothing to interest you, stay in and listen to our new volume of the 4 Julia’s House compilation album, which we released last week. 35 amazing, locally-sourced songs, and all the proceeds go to Julia’s House Children’s Hospices; thank you!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 24th – 31st August 2022

We can’t wait until roundup Tuesday, when we usually roundup the weekly roundup, it’s the last big summer blowout bank holiday, so we’re simply too excited and thought you might wanna plan early, so here it is, hold on to your horses… or just let them run wild, I’m not worried, just too excited, did I say I was too excited?!

Repetition is fine, but there’s no links here, too time-consuming, so please us this link to our event calendar, and you can grab details and ticket links from there, but you knew that already, I hope. Oh, did I say, repetition is fine?

All quiet on Wednesday 24th, but if you’re eager to get the ball rolling, 41 Fords play the Kilminton Home Guard Club in Warminster, entry by donation, and don’t forget Wednesday s are the regular acoustic jam night down our trusty Southgate in Devizes, and is always a wonderful night.


Thursday 25th then, and Honey Fest kicks off at the Barge on HoneyStreet, and banging out the whole weekend; I believe there’s a few tickets up for grabs.

Meanwhile, unmissable rock soloist Adam Masterson plays The Tuppenny in Swindon with Jules Hill in support. Bath Forum have The Billy Joel Songbook, and lots of lucky people will be making their way to either Reading Festival or GoatFest; have fun!


Warming up to Friday, the 26th August, when our brilliant Irish folk duo, the Celtic Roots Collective are at the Pelican in Devizes.

Over in the land of chips and ham, there’s an August Bank Holiday Beer & Cider Festival at the Three Crowns, and ska-punkers Operation77 play The Black Horse, Chippenham.

Illingworth takes on triple gigs this weekend, catch them at Flan O’Brian’s in Bath on Friday, where Komedia have a night with The Ministry of Burlesque’s Cabaret; ding dong!

Mod band Peloton plays The Vic, Swindon, and wow, the Cheese & Grain, Frome have Morcheeba, yes, I said Morcheeba; show offs!


Saturday 27th, is the big one. Shall I start it with the….

Editor’s Pick of Week: The Full Tone Festival, The Green, Devizes

Yep, you probably guessed it, it’s time for the hills of Devizes to come alive with the sound of music. It is the Full Tone Festival Weekend. Hurry and get your ticket, and say hi if you see me wandering around like a lost puppy. Said what needed to be said about this corker, let the show begin.

Over in Devizes Market Place from 9am-1pm there’s a Mind, Body & Spirit Market. There’s free live music all day at the Crown Inn, Bishops Cannings, with 12 Bars Later, Plan of Action, and It’s Complicated. Later, 12 Bars Later nip across to the Southgate, Devizes!

And where do I even begin elsewhere? Holt Scarecrow Trail begins, it’s Aldbourne Carnival, a Rod Stewart tribute at The Pewsham, Near Chippenham, there’s a Summer Party at Westbury Cons Club with Wade Merritt and Jay, followed by People Like Us, and the West of England Youth Orchestra perform at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

A debut performance, at the Gloucester Road Conservative Club in Trowbridge for soul band Dimensions, and that’s free entry. Kurt Vile & The Violators at Bath Forum, Apollo Ghosts at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, and in Swindon, the wonderful The Daybreakers are live at The Vic, while The Tin Shack Band play the Woodlands Edge. Oh, and The Swiss Chalet has a Harry’s Heroes fundraiser.


Sunday is where things usually start to calm down, but not this weekend. The 28th sees the second day of Full Tone, Great Cheverall Soap Box Derby and Potterne Festival.

Illingworth play The Churchill Arms in West Lavington today, and a young local band to watch out for, Nothing Rhymes With Orange are in support.

There’s a mini fest at the Talbot in Calne with Six O’clock Circus, People Like Us, Wet Frank, End of Story and others.

LodgeFest aptly at Warminster’s Lodge, an M4 Classic Car & Bike Show in Chippenham, and the Hammervilles have a bank holiday beach party at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Swindon is gearing up for the Shuffle next month, but in the meantime, Shades of Seattle plays the Vic, highly recommended Atari Pilot are at the Castle, and for the kids, there’s always Milkshake live at the Wyvern.


If you’re still standing in Devizes on Monday, 29th August, here’s what to do…. Black Rat Monday, down The British Lion, with the Celtic Roots Collective and a jam to follow. Or Finley & Mark support The Reason at the Three Crowns; nice either way!

From 5pm Illingworth will be at the Waterfront, Pewsey, and the Beverley May Band play The Milk Churn, Melksham. It’s the Chippenham River Festival, there’s a massive line-up for a free music festival across the entire village of Box, it is Box Rocks. The Lost Trades and Dolly Mavies headline a mini-festival at The Lamb Yard in Bradford-on-Avon, and Abba tribute 21st Century ABBA play The Bowl in Town Gardens, Swindon.

I’m sure there’s going to be more added as the week goes by, so keep up-to-date with our event calendar. That’s the weekend forecast to date, though.

Tuesday 30th and Gently Tender play The Royal Oak in Marlborough, the regular Jazz Knights at Swindon’s Royal Oak has the Kevin Figes Quartet, during the day there’s a Farmyard Circus at Queen’s Park, and Russell Brand comes to the Wyvern.

Wednesday 31st, look out for the Wind in the Willows at the Corsham Almshouses, and phew, that’s me done, dusted and ready for a nap; have a great weekend!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 17th-24th August 2022

Ah this is more like it, the English summer we know and love! Tad wet, but here’s what we have to do this week and the last weekend before the big summer blow-out which is the August Bank Holiday.….

Don’t forget, more info and all links for bookings are on our event calendar, where you can also plan ahead, so long as it keeps updating, which I’m trying my best to, honest!

There’s a floral demonstration at Devizes Town Hall on Wednesday 17th August, by the Devizes Flower Club; opens at 7pm, £5.

Parents head for the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon where there’s a messy art session and a singing day ahead.

Manchester’s noughties art rock band Everything Everything play the Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Thursday 18th, and again, kids can visit The Musical Zoo at the wonderful Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. Three bands at The Beehive, Swindon on Thursday, The Acoustic Buzz 52, Larkham & Hall and Jol Rose. Also, at The Vic the have Monasteries, Creak, Persadian & Chasing Dolls. The Summer Youth Project performance of Legally Blonde is at the Wyvern.


Onto Friday 19th, and it’s the Wine Tasting event at St Mary’s Devizes, previewed here.

If you’re lucky you can still book a fantastic Survival Camp for any young adventurous children who are aged between 10 years old and 12 years old, with the Wild Edge Survival Camp at West Lavington.

Folk duo Fly Yeti Fly are at The Bear Inn, Bradford on Avon, The Beverley May Band at The Kings Arms, Melksham, Hayden Lloyd at Komedia, Bath. @59 play The Wellington in Marlborough.

In Swindon, Judas Rising plays the Vic, while Bobbi Nicholles is at Woodlands Edge.


Saturday 20th, it’s my pick of the week; the Bath Comic & Gaming Festival at Bath Uni. Full of UK based comic artist guests, some film and tv guests and cosplay guests, a dinosaur zone, Stranger Things, Ghostbusters and Star Wars props, and lots of stuff for kids to empty fanboy dad’s wallet! Lord, help me!

Roots and folk at the Southgate Devizes, with Barney Kelly, and the welcome return of Long Street Blues Club with Skinny Molly, I believe is a sell-out. Worth checking though, I might be wrong, as, I sometimes am; I said sometimes!

Dutty Moonshine Big Band play The Barge, HoneyStreet, Emily Barker is at The Pump in Trowbridge, and another successful Pipe & Slippers Rave at Trowbridge Town Hall goes off; I have to see this for myself; dust off the old whistle and white gloves! Oh, and if Sausage & Cider is more your thing, there’s a Day of it at The Brewery Inn, Seend Cleeve.

Shame Live at Lydiard had to cancel, but People Like Us play The Swiss Chalet, Swindon and Click! are at Woodlands Edge.


Sunday afternoon on the 21st August then, has another Fantasy Radio Lark in Hillworth Park, Devizes, though I’ve no idea who’s playing, because they never say. But Chaz Throughgood is at the Southgate.

It’s the August Jam for the exclusive Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club, in their hiding place at Lacock, while the fantastic Sarah C. Ryan Band play a lazy afternoon at Richard Jefferies Museum, Swindon, and Jim Blackmann plays Komedia, Bath.

And that’s your weekend over. On Tuesday 23rd Radio Banska play Jazz Knights at The Royal Oak, Swindon, and at this moment in time I’ve nought else in the week until Thursday’s opening of HoneyFest at the Barge on HoneyStreet.

But it will be bank holiday next weekend, and there’s much to be looking into and planning. We’ll be at The Full Tone Festival on the Green in Devizes, and that one, I promise you, will be awesome, but not the same without you, so get your ticket as soon as possible!

But yeah, same weekend you can find Reading Festival, GoatFest, Potterne Festival, Holt Scarecrow Trail, the Great Cheverall Soap Box Derby, Mini Talbot Fest at The Talbot, Calne, LodgeFest at The Lodge, Warminster, an M4 Classic Car & Bike Show in Chippenham, Chippenham River Festival, a live music festival at the Lamb Yard in Bradford-on-Avon, 21st Century ABBA at The Bowl, Town Gardens, Swindon as well as multitude of smaller gigs at just about every local pub and venue you can mention; and it’s all here on our event calendar, just hope the rain gives it a break!


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Events in Wiltshire Weekly Roundup: 14-17th July 2022

In the words of the King, “lord almighty, feel the temperature rising,” it’s set to be scorchio this weekend; here’s what we’ve found to occupy yourself, but remember the code portmanteau…. sunscreen! I’m a kinda radish colour now as I didn’t listen to my own advice, which you didn’t need to know, but I’m telling you anyway….

I’m also telling you, as usual I ain’t, as ain’t nobody got time for adding links to this here overview, find all the addition info you need and ticket links on our Event Calendar HERE.

Don’t forget Marlborough Open Studios ongoing until 24th July. On Thursday 14th July find Ray Cooper at Marlborough Folk Roots club.

By Friday 15th you should be prepared to get your booties movin’ with a bit of Salsa dancing at The Muck & Dundar, Devizes.

Dan Whitehouse plays the Pump, Trowbridge, Holly Carter at The Royal Oak, Bath, Road Trip at The Vic, Swindon, and this one needs no clarification; MeatLoud – Bat Out of Hades at the Neeld Hall, Chippenham! Ah, and breath, the fabulous Chicken Teddys gig at the Railway Inn, Yatton, The John E Vistic Rock N Roll Sound System at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and there’s outdoor theatre at Trowbridge Town Hall with Wuthering Heights.

Saturday is start of the Market Lavington Vintage Meet & Family Weekend. Rumours about cancelation is rubbish, this is going ahead, deffo, and tickets are still available.

Devizes sees its first Italian Auto Moto Festival in the Market Place on Saturday 16th and take Frunch at The Muck & Dundar with a pop-up kitchen. Staying in that lovely holiday-at-home rum bar, DJ James Threlfall plays a set in the evening. Live music spoiled for choice Devizions can find The Reason playing The Three Crowns, Rockhoppaz at the Southgate, or take a downhill walk to The Cross Keys, Rowde for The Life of Brian band.

It’s good news for Attack! The Wargames Show, as it finally makes a return to Devizes School on Saturday and Sunday. Over 30 trade stands with Military books, brushes, paints, terrain pieces and supplies (good for model railway enthusiasts too), models and figures. They have 100 competitors playing in 8 competitions and 12 participation games, to come and try. Plus, canteen and bar (provided by the British Lion). The show usually brings around 1000 people in so do come and see what the hobby is all about. This is the Facebook group to join for more details.

Or, for a rare opportunity these days; you can go to a record fair at Melksham’s Assembly Hall on Saturday.

Menu and Music at The Crown in Marlborough, Bottfest continues at The Seven Stars, Bottlesford with surfers Hooch, and a beach barbeque, although I’m not sure how a lorry carrying a beach is going to be able to squeeze around Bottlesford corner.

Billy in The Lowground play Trowbridge Town Hall, lovin’ the name, The Invincible Pigs at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and Green Day tribute Green Haze at The Cheese & Grain, Frome. BlitzKidz at The Vic, and Miss Kel’s Dance Academy’s Legends at The Wyvern, Swindon.

Pick-of-the-Week

But eyes of Swindon should be on our pick-of-the-week this week, the town’s tribute to Dave Young at the Old Town Bowl, the ingeniously titled My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival.

The Swindon Shuffle, in partnership with South Swindon Parish Council and Dave’s friends and family are very pleased to bring you the 2nd ‘My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival’ – a tribute to Dave Young.

The event is once again happening in the beautiful surroundings of Town Gardens Bowl on Saturday 16th July, from midday until 10pm and is being held in tribute to Dave Young, the former landlord of The Victoria and 12 Bar, who sadly died last June at the Prospect Hospice after a hard-fought battle against cancer. Profits from the event are being donated to the Prospect Hospice in Dave’s name – last years totalled over £14,000!

The event will take the shape of an all-day community music festival with a stellar line up of live acts, finished off with the high-energy Rave Against The Regime, a live band who play reinterpretations of synth-heavy dance music classics with no synths…

The rest of the line-up is headed by local alternative pop-rock act All ears Avow and also features Soul band Joli and the Souls, indie act Stay Lunar, Irish folk-punk outfit Mick O’Toole, Swindon Americana stalwarts The Shudders, Wiltshire Folk collective The Lost Trades, indie band Kicking Edgar and more. Plus, on the Bandstand stage acts like Baths Concrete Prairie and Swindon’s own Canute’s Plastic Army and Si & Matt Hall.

Alongside the music there will be plenty of activities for all the family, a huge local maker’s market courtesy of Swindie Makers Markets and food and drink from a variety of locally based vendors like Streets of India and a licenced bar by The Tuppenny.

Tickets are available online via seetickets.com (booking fee applies). Physical tickets are available from The Tuppenny and Holmes Music in Swindon and Tesco’s in Calne.

And that’s about your lot; bit of a quieter weekend, especially in Devizes; save some pennies for Beer Festival the next weekend. Find Marty Wilde & The Wildcats at The Wyvern, Swindon on Sunday, the Infant Voice Festival same place on Monday, with Sarah Millican’s Bobby Dazzler tour on Wednesday.

In Devizes on Tuesday 19th, it’s the Devizes Community Choir’s first performance at The Bear, The Big Sing; break a leg, guys!

Another recommended option for Wednesday is at Wiltshire Rural Music Centre, Trowbridge, where Daisy Chapman & Amelia Wise play an intimate set.

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The Rondo Theatre does Macbeth

Review by Mick Brian

Photos by Gail Foster

“It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.” So says Macbeth to Lady Macbeth following his vision of Banquo’s ghost….

And audiences at the Rondo Theatre Company’s performances of the titular show last week were not deprived of that substance. From slit throats, gory locks and shirts, to bloodied faces, neckerchiefs and a finale of a trail of blood as Macbeth’s body is unceremoniously dragged from his home, there was no letting up of the blood (pun intended) throughout the riveting two hours of the show.

Directors Matt Nation and Will Jesmond de Clermont’s vision of a 1920s London organised crime gang setting delivered – Peaky Blinders meets William Shakespeare with a gritty, no holds barred presentation of violence inherent in the struggles for supremacy, whether over rival gangs, traitorous turncoats or internal seizure of power and the retributions to maintain power. But this was no pastiche of Tommy Shelby and Co. – this was full Shakespearian tragedy brought into the 20th century brilliantly. Chrissy Fryer’s costumery sublimely captured the era with tweeds, caps, flapper dresses and the ubiquitous used of orange gang colours throughout as neckers, ties, hair ribbons and pocket handkerchief. And no more so that the thoroughly perfect witches, played by Sophie Kerr, Tasha Bye and Anna McGrail, as drug addled opium den management resplendent in flapper dresses, overseen by the powerful Maria Finlay as Hecate.

Set design was simplistically excellent. Duncan’s gangland headquarters a timber merchants’ front – the Birnam Wood Co. of course – and a gauze separated backstage area for the opium den. Which brings further praise for the lighting from Andy Cork, with the dark, sombre mood of the play enhanced by subtle changes… accompanied by the brightness of the opium den to display the rich colours of the silks and drapes therein.

And so to the rest of the cast. Not a single weak member – all thoroughly convincing and believable, fronted by the perfect pairing as Sam Fynn as Macbeth, and Alice Grace as his scheming, power hungry wife. We all looked to the lady as she ensnared her uncertain husband, then dealt with the lecherous and seedy Duncan in turn and tidied up the mess left by Macbeth. Sam Fynn portrayed the slide into madness perfectly as his world collapsed around him, culminating in his torment when Lady M kills herself. I challenge anyone to find a more harrowing depiction of these power crazed lovers, one coldly calculating, the other increasingly crazed.

Rob Finlay played the jovial Banquo who realises oh too late that he is on the hitlist, then the battle hardened and focussed Siward – once he had shaken his gory locks and broken the good mirth at the banquet of course. Maria Finlay as well as Hecate provided wonderful comic relief as the porter cum cleaner – and invented a whole new scene as an epilogue swabbing the floor of Macbeth’s blood. To complete the family set, Freddie Finlay in classic casting style played Fleance, Banquo’s son, as a no mean wielder of a razor himself.

More double up casting saw Steve Brookes as the contemplative, pipe smoking Menteith and a murderer, enacting Macbeth’s violent requests with his fellow despatcher, Ian Diddams. Praise is needed here especially – the fight scene between these two, Banquo and Fleance left no holds barred with stabbings, slicing, punches, and the razored throat cutting. As well as murdering at the drop of a surly hat, Ian Diddams opened the play as Duncan – far from the oft played kindly benevolent leader, this was a nasty, lecherous characterisation fully deserving of losing his life – and fully fitting the gritty vision of the directors.

Thence to Ross, played by Becky Waters, and Lennox , Natalie Prescott, two increasingly disillusioned gang members, And Jack Strawbridge as Malcom, whose journey moved from uncertain, shy son of Duncan to assertive, and even nastier eventual victor, his metamorphosis highlighted by the wash of red light in his victory speech… all that was needed was unfurled swastikas to finalise the image portrayed. Lady Macbeth’s doctor was elegantly and eloquently portrayed by Julia Marshall-Wessendorf… all crisp and professional demeanour, not totally supressing the disquiet and concern beneath. Two further younger cast members joined Freddie Finlay in the show also – Dilan Minto as the brave but doomed Young Siward, hatred for Macbeth pouring from his every pore, and Scarlett Nation, the youngest cast member effortlessly working her way through servant, messenger and slaughtered pretty chicken of Macduff.

And speaking of Macduff… Lucy Upward played the angry Lady MacDuff, remonstrating against the ills of the world as an abandoned wife… and screaming her way to her death before brilliantly appearing as a west country maid to the Lady of the house. Which leaves the hero of the hour… MacDuff himself, silkily played by Chris Constantine exacting revenge for his family’s slaughter by seeing off the chief protagonist in a slashed throat and streak of blood left on set.

Two hours of non stop action delivered at a frenetic pace. Two hours of truly class acting and technical presentation – the piece de resistance being the genius portrayal of Banquo’s lineage of kings presented to Macbeth by the witches. And this is “amateur” theatre – some bloody amateur production that was I say (NOT!) … and bloody they were indeed by the end.

“It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.”

And they did.

Macbeth, by The Rondo Theatre company, at the Rondo Theatre, Larkhall, Bath, July 6th – 9th 2022.


The World Under the Wood Will Put a Smile on Your Face

A dollop of Lewis Carroll, shards of C. S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and perhaps even nicer elements of Tolkien, The World Under the Wood will put a smile on your face and bring out the inner child in you.…..

Being honest, it doesn’t take too much to bring out the inner child out in this grumpy old man, but more to cheer me up, and this did both, delightfully!

Running until Sunday, with matinees and evening performances at Devizes’ Wharf Theatre, this simply charming hour-long play, written and directed by Helen Langford is so whimsical, such a delight, you will be captivated by its magical cross-realms. Ideally you need a child aged six plus, but anyone into fairytales you can drag along, I suggest you do. Break out some glitter!

Yet while citing the obvious influences of classic children’s literature combines the settings and themes, it overlooks the subject, a contemporary feel of industry versus nature, the environmental angle on everyone’s lips, especially children. And it presents it in such an easy, fantastical way, without complication or ‘rubbing your face in it’ any age will be absorbed by the moral. Anymore synopsis and I’m verging on spoliers!

All homegrown talent, The World Under the Wood is an unmissable Wharf exclusive. The protagonist, Jodie, a kind of Dorothy-Dora hybrid is played confidently and spectacularly by Georgina Claridge, and her interactions with archetypal characters manage to retain the charm of those they pastiche, a talking tree, played gracefully by Chris Smith, pet dog by Carolynn Coomer, and Louise Peak as the queen-like Great Leader of an industrial underworld of robotic oompa loompa-like humans adds pantomime humour to the show.

Yet, it is not pantomime, in so much its zany or sing-along element is slight above the morals, but it is partially musical, with simple but effective original songs. If I’m honest, I huffed at the thought of going to see a “family” show, but I came out the other end chuffed, sprinkled with psychological fairy dust and mused with an emotion of sustainability on equal terms.

Your kids will love it, you might love it more! The World Under the Wood is running now, ending Sunday 26th June at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes. Tickets HERE.


REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – Tankus The Henge @ Corn Exchange 14th June 2022

Absolutely Stonking!

Andy Fawthrop


The Devizes Arts Festival stepped up several gears last night with an absolutely explosive performance from the musical phenomenon that is Tankus The Henge.…..

The powerhouse 7-piece hit the stage running, immediately injecting energy, noise, fun and bombast into a dull Devizes Tuesday night. This is a band that is almost impossible to categorise, but why on earth should that matter?

“Eclectic” is probably the best I can come up with, combining influences from all over the musical spectrum, and all over the world. There’s soul, funk, blues, jazz, psychedelic all there in the mix, one minute evoking the stinking swamps of New Orleans, the next minute a Berlin bordello, and then on to vaudeville and cabaret. You can hear Tom Waits, Dexys, Madness, Audience and the late and long-missed Alex Harvey.

Up front Jaz Delorean was the ultimate showman, not only leading the band on vocals and piano, but egging on his band-mates to greater and greater efforts. His boogie-woogie piano, often shifting into almost ragtime, combined with physical and actual pyrotechnics – the tilting piano, the clouds of smoke, the climbing acrobatics – provided an arresting front-piece to a very, very good band. These guys were happy to give out the appearance of a ramshackle, fun-loving, loose band, but make no mistake, they were an extremely tight and well-rehearsed unit. The rhythm section drove the juggernaut, and the three-man brass section did all the wheelies. The moves were dramatic and choreographed, theatrical and expressive, and a grand visual foil to the musical shenanigans.

But, like any really good band, they were no mere one trick pony. Never afraid to dial it down for a while, drop the tempo and the volume, they took the audience with them every step of the way. Love songs were mixed with crowd-pleasing call-and-response anthems, before the full wall-of-sound came belting back at you again.

Tankus themselves describe what they do as “Gonzo rock & roll”, and I guess that summed it up – – bonkers, anarchic, fusion, bizarre, batshit-crazy stuff. And it was absolutely wonderful, drawing enormous applause from the dancing crowd.

And so good to see people of all ages and generations there amongst the crowd. I suppose with such a catalogue of styles it would be hard not to at least please some of the people some of the time. With a full 90-minute rollercoaster, high-energy set, Tankus have certainly lifted the bar in D-Town for sheer enjoyment and entertainment.

I’ve no idea how much these guys got paid (and I’m not asking) but whatever it was, Tankus absolutely earned their money. They must be one of the most hard-working bands on the circuit. This wasn’t so much a performance, as complete on-stage energy blow-out. It was a musical statement made in the boldest of colours and loud sounds. It was never subtle, but OMG it was soooo good! Bonkers but brilliant!

The Devizes Arts Festival continues every day until 25th June at various venues across town. Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk


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REVIEW – Lovesong @ Wharf Theatre, Devizes – Thursday 26th May 2022

Fabulous Stagecraft!

by Andy Fawthrop

Images used with kind permission of Chris Watkins Media

Been a while since I’d been to our town’s lovely little theatre, and it was a joy to go back again.…..

The occasion was the staging of Abi Morgan’s “Lovesong”. Now I happen to be a fan of Abi Morgan’s writing, and anyone who watched the recent BBC1 three-series drama “The Split” will know exactly what I’m on about. Her catalogue of work in TV, film and live theatre has won plenty of much-deserved critical acclaim. Accordingly, I was very much looking forward to this production, about which I’d heard many positive comments (and which we briefly previewed here at Devizine recently).

Image: Chris Watkins

The play, directed by the talented Freddie Underwood, no stranger to Wharf productions for a few years now, is a tight emotional drama. Starring only four actors – Imogen Riley, Adam Ball, John Winterton and Tor Burt – “Lovesong” tells the story of one couple from two different points in their lives, both as young lovers in their 20s, and as older companions looking back on their lives. Their relationship is reviewed by their past and present selves, blending youthful yearning and optimism with more worldly experience. The start of a youthful relationship blends with an impending death.

I found the production quite mesmerising, captured by the verbal and physical choreography of the piece. The tactile interactions of the two couples (being really the same couple) was offset by their inability to talk to their future or past selves, only their contemporaneous partner. It made for some interesting debates, particularly in the second half, about whether time (and space) is linear, or whether the past, present and future are somehow all fused together. Life events happen, they come and go, but emotions and feelings are far more complex than that.

Image: Chris Watkins

The two younger members of the cast – Imogen Riley and Adam Ball – gave confident and assured performances, looking quite at home on the stage as the younger version of the couple. But it was the elder version of the couple – played by John Winterton (in a rare appearance in front of the audience), and the talented and evergreen Tor Burt – that edged it for me. It may be an age thing, but I found the way that they inhabited their roles quite fascinating. Their concerns, their issues and their undoubted love for each other were conveyed in an utterly convincing performance.

I won’t spoil the ending (and you can see it coming a mile off) but it was pretty heart-wrenching, and there were plenty of weepy eyes in the auditorium to prove it.

For me, this was an ideal type of production to run at the Wharf, given its tight space restrictions on stage. A cast of only four had enough room on a sparsely-dressed stage to actually move and to breathe, and therefore you could concentrate on the words and the action, without your eye being distracted any purely physical/ practical stage constraints in productions with a larger cast.

Image: Chris Watkins

I found the music in the first half slightly distracting, but the balance felt much better in the second half. That minor quibble aside, this was overall a superb production. Starting with Abi Morgan’s tautly-scripted prose, Freddie Underwood’s assured direction, working with four very good actors on stage, and we had the recipe for success. Very highly recommended.

There are still a few tickets left for tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday), so get along to see it if you possibly can. You won’t regret it. Box Office – 03336 663366 or www.wharftheatre.co.uk

Future productions at The Wharf Theatre:

23rd – 26th June The World Under The Wood
19th – 24th September Hedda Garbler
1st October The Lesson (Icarus Theatre Company) – one night only
7th October London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra – one night only


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