Word on the towpath is our wonderful theatre, the only theatre in Devizes, The Wharf Theatre is preparing for curtains up in October, starting with an amateur production of My Mother Said I Never Should.
Since being forced to close in March the team have been working tirelessly to keep East Wiltshire’s best loved and only theatre afloat. There was a time, in June, when the future looked rather bleak for the little theatre. After the renovation three years ago, surplus funds were already low, then lockdown happened. The Gazette reported it may have to close due to a £30,000 shortfall in income. Celebrity patron Christopher Biggins praised and promoted a campaign, at the time they hoped to reopen for 2021. So good news is, we’re some months earlier you can enjoy the Wharf productions once again.
While it’s great news for entertainment in town, be aware and be quick to book. Only thirty tickets are available for each performance, in line with current guidelines. They can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
Last years’ Chair, Oli Beech says: “Break out the bottles, the phoenix of theatre does rise from the ashes and soars high above Devizes! Our dear little theatre is back in the black after a close encounter with disaster! The call went out and boy, was it answered. We’ve had donations pouring in, generous members and locals passing the hats around, bake sale proceeds, even an overwhelming donation of £10,000. We are so thankful to everyone who has helped us either financially or with their many words of support and encouragement….”
During their enforced closure the team hosted three costume sales to raise further funds; completely updated their website and launched a YouTube channel to keep people entertained with specially filmed monologues and some short behind the scene films.
The Wharf also welcome a new Artistic Director, Debby Wilkinson. “Restrictions are beginning to lift but with social distancing still very much in place,” Debby said, “anything we do in the theatre itself will be limited. However, we are very proud to launch the first three plays of our Autumn/Winter season.”
Whilst social distancing restrictions remain in place please continue to refer to their website for the latest details. But I’m happy to announce the new performances will be:
My Mother Said I Never Should
Friday 16th and Saturday 17th October 2020 7.30pm each evening
Written by Charlotte Keatley and Directed by Debby Wilkinson
This rehearsed reading is scheduled to run on October 16th and 17th. First performed in 1987, this play breaks with convention in that it doesn’t follow a linear timeline. The text is now studied for both GCSE and A level and tells the stories of four women throughout several periods of their lives. It explores the relationships between mothers and daughters along the themes of independence and secrets. It is a poignant bittersweet story of love, jealousy and the price of freedom through the immense social changes of the 20th century. Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd on behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk
Tickets: £10/£8 concessions.
Adam and the Gurglewink
Friday 13th and Saturday 14th November
7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee
Written and Directed by Helen Langford
Three rehearsed readings of an original play by the Wharf’s own Helen Langford. Adam is planning to run away when he stumbles across The Gurglewink, a childhood toy who has come to life in the attic. They form a reluctant friendship where reality blurs and magic happen. They meet Rainbowgirl who challenges Adam to a dangerous quest which will depend on his ability to keep going when things are not always what they seem.
Suitable for children 6-12 years and their parents. Tickets:/ £8/£6 concessions
Collected Grimm Tales
Monday 14th to Saturday 19th December 7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee
By: The Brothers Grimm Directed by: Debby Wilkinson
Familiar and lesser known stories are brought to the stage using a physical and non-natural style of performance. These stories journey into the warped world of imagination. We will meet Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and others, performed by a small adult cast, on a simple set. The audience will need to use their imagination and fully embrace the living power of theatre. Suitable for children and adults.
Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. On behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk Adaptor Carol Ann Duffy Dramatised by Tim Supple and the Young Vic Co. Tickets: £14/£12 concessions
Everyone having a nice March so far, been alright, innit? I promised, when I featured the first fortnight of events, here, that I would return to complete the last two weeks. I’ve promised this before and totally spaced on it, for which I apologise; not enough hours in the day. Nothing to do with my goldfish memory. Here though, this month, I’ve actually only gone and done it, before the 31st March too! See below if you don’t believe it’s true, the last fortnight in March, stuff to do while waiting for the supermarkets to restock on bog roll, and all that. I know, it scares me sometimes too.
Bear in mind, mind, our calendar is constantly updating, so do check in as more events and gigs are bound to magically appear like the shopkeeper in Mr Ben.
Sunday 15th is where we were up to, and I got two fantablous gigs, Burbank are the White Bear in Devizes, while Jon Amor is at the Three Horseshoes in Bradford on Avon; nice.
Monday, I never know if the Devizes Folk Club is on down the Lamb or not, to be frank, but it’s a place for a beer if I’m wrong and it’s not!!
Tuesday 17th The Stonehenge lecture at the Wiltshire Museum is now sold out. Celebrated cartoonist and artist, Norman Thelwell is at The Merchant’s House in Marlborough, for a fascinating hour illustrated talk, tracing his life, passions and artistic development. Thelwell produced 1,500 cartoons and 60 front covers for the famed Punch magazine alone and some 32 books translated into a dozen different languages. His works were full of beautifully observed detail and mainly of rural subjects, including country and leisure pursuits, sport, house sales and renovation, stately homes, gardening and sailing. Failing that, Cracknakeel provides live music at The Sun in Frome for their St Patrick’s Day celebration.
Wednesday 18th is jam-packed, for a Wednesday! Acoustic jam down the Southgate, Devizes. Bromham’s Farm Cookery School has a Taste of Morocco class, where you could be learning how to make a Briouat which is like a Moroccan Samosa, make your own Khobz and Kefta Mkaouara. £40.00 per person. Over in Marlborough David Evans gives the second of three lectures in The Merchant’s House Study Series, focussing on Reformation in England and the Arts. The Roots Sessions continues at Frome’s Cheese & Grain with the fantastic Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue.
Thursday 19th and you could be back down The Farm Cookery School in Bromham for a Mozzarella & Halloumi Masterclass with Josie. She will teach how to make both cheese which is technical but fun! £35.00 per person. The fantastic Ed Byrne is at the Bath Forum and Moles has a punky/metal night with the Anarchist’s Bookfair, Butter The Pavement and Out Of Reach.
If it’s a slow start to the week, Friday 20th March makes up for it. If, like me, all you know about Jesus Christ Superstar is that he came down from heaven on a Yamaha, and you have doubts with your conviction of that, it’s the opening night for this amateur production by arrangement with The Really Useful Group Ltd at Devizes’ Wharf Theatre. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical portrayal of the last seven days of the life of Christ as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot runs until Sat 28th March and while tickets are still available as I write this, do be as quick, as if you were on a Yamaha yourself; take care not to skid though!
Meanwhile Devizes Town Hall is the place to head for opera fans, as The White Horse Opera presents their Spring Concert. Including Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore, Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan and Hadyn’s Creation, this would be the perfect introduction to opera for those, like me, who thought Donizetti was a type of pasta sauce!
If you fancy music more pop, the local supergroup I’m always raving about, the Female Of The Species play Melksham’s Assembly Hall. Fusing all their respective band’s influences, expect the best of rock, soul and ska as the girl’s combine forces for a fun-filled gig; I’ve been to see one of these shows and I’m not hyping it up because they’re all awesome chicks, I highly recommend it!
Day one of two, at the inspiring Shoebox Theatre in Swindon of their FUSE Festival where six emerging artists test a new performance idea over three days. Fuse is about supporting the beginnings of new work before it’s fully developed. Watch, discuss, and be part of the creation of something brilliant. Two performances Kat Lyons’ Dry Season, interweaving music and movement with original spoken word poetry and extracts from medical literature. And the debut one-woman-show from Mighty Mammal Theatre, Swine of the Times, where you can meet the piggies at the troff; they sing songs, say prayers and even mime. Alice Wolff-Whitehouse employs her skills in physical comedy, dance and song to bring to life a series of flawed and quintessentially British characters, looking at the grotesque nature of privilege in the UK through a warped and colourful lens.
Staying in Swindon, Baila Coffee & Vinyl have some Disco Voodoo with DJ Amir, or try indie rock covers with Joli & the Souls at the Vic. Elsewhere, the Leathers play The Three Horseshoes in Bradford on Avon, Clannad are at Bath Forum, and Jack Dee’s Off The Telly tour is at Salisbury City Hall.
Saturday 21st then. After the hugely successful free concert in the Market Place last summer, The Full Tone Orchestra have taken their show to Marlborough, and return to town to rave the night away at the Corn Exchange. Taking the most popular section of their show, the club anthems, expect this to be something innovative and all glowsticks, as conductor Anthony Brown’s beloved orchestra reproduce the club classics which defined an era.
The Cavalier go country with the Stone Mountain Sinners, caught these guys before, they’ve a refreshing approach to country-rock which is a cut above the rest. And breezy, original songwriter Ed Witcomb makes a welcome return to The Southgate. For surf beats, odd time signatures, eccentric tunes and irony-fuelled free jazz, try The Barge at Honeystreet, where bonkers surf surrealists Mustard Allegro do their stuff.
Super Trooper Abba tribute, Sensations grace the Seend Community Centre, while Swindon’s Meca has a Whitney Houston tribute. Don’t forget though, it’s day two of the Shoebox’s Fuse Festival too.
Mercy Lounge at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford on Avon. Recommended ska night at Warminster’s Prestbury Sports Bar with the Train To Skaville, and Paul Carrick is at Bath Forum.
Head to the Southgate for an afternoon pint or three, on Sunday 22nd, and our fantastic singer-songwriter Vince Bell will entertain you. Meanwhile, Groovelator play The Three Horseshoes in Bradford.
Tuesday, Devizes Film Club at the Town Hall have the latest Ken Loach film, Sorry We Missed You, which you will be if you miss this one film fans. Full of drama, tension and heartbreak. Ricky and Debbie are the parents of teenage children. Ricky joins the ‘gig’ economy with a franchise for a parcel delivery firm. The job is sold to him as one where he will become master of his own destiny. Providing, that is, he complies with the labyrinth of deadlines, rules and conditions imposed by the company, a near impossible task. Debbie is a care worker who wants to care for the old people as though they are her Mam. But her working conditions thwart her in doing the job as she thinks fit. This modern Dickensian story dramatises the conflict between work and family life in contemporary Britain.
Don’t forget Wednesday’s acoustic Jam down the Southgate, and blues-folk singer Elles Bailey is with Phil King at the Chapel Arts, Bath. Thursday you can witness epic human-powered feats, life-affirming challenges and mind-blowing cinematography on the big screen at The Banff Mountain Film Festival world tour, coming to the Salisbury City Hall. Staying in Devizes on the last Thursday of every month though is no bore, as the regular and celebrated open mic night at the Cellar Bar is something to behold.
Seventies punk bands never had such a great name as Brighton’s Peter & The Test Tube Babies. Still going strong forty years on, they play the Vic in Swindon on Friday 27th. Tenner on the door. Swindon also has an Improv Jam at The Shoebox, and homemade function band Locomotion at the Swiss Chalet.
While it’ll sadly never be possible for the boys to be back in town, Preston’s tribute Twin Lizzy will. They make a welcomed return to the Cavalier, Devizes on Friday. Meanwhile, the Devizes & District Twinning Association take over the town hall to bring us some French Café Music with Jac & Co, tickets are also a tenner for both these diverse evenings.
How much more diverse do you want? A dedicated club night for adults with Learning Disabilities? This Is Me at the wonderful charity youth centre, Young Melksham is precisely that, a night of great music and friendship. There’s a series of these events, first one is Friday.
Another welcomed return to Marlborough Folk-Roots at the Town Hall on Friday, when Steve Knightley explores the themes and stories that inspire him and shows how music and words can become lyrics and chords and notes can meld to create songs that acquire a life of their own.
For want of an authentic tribute band, From The Jam play The Cheese & Grain in Frome, and I’ve heard all good stories about them. If originals are what you want though, The Queen’s Head in Box has a double-booking Friday. Katy Hurt stretches the country music genre in exciting new directions; haunting blues vocals, towering country rock guitars, even a reggae vibe, and she is followed by psychedelic alternative rock band, The Bohemian Embassy.
Saturday night of the 28th March is alright, but no fighting, please. Time for the Devizes Lions’ Spring Concert at St Andrew’s Church, where Ian Diddams comperes Bath Coleman, Bangers & Nash, and the Trowbridge & District Youth Band. Tickets are £10, proceeds to Wiltshire Young Carers.
The Corn Exchange has a Gin Festival. Tribute act, Motley Crude are The Cavalier and local heroes Rockhoppaz play The Black Swan. For high octane original and classic rock mixed with some tasteful Bluesy tracks, check the Mark Smallman Band at the Southgate.
Devizine is the unofficial Tamsin Quin fan club, if you wanna hear why, head to Bromham’s Owl on Saturday. Another Abba Tribute, Swede Dreams play Market Lavington Community Hall.
Highly recommended for the mods, The Roughcut Rebels are at The Pheasant in Chippenham. Also, Blondie & Ska are great fun, they’re at the Wiltshire Yeoman in Trowbridge, checking ahead, they play in Devizes, at the Pelican in May. The Blue Rose Band at The Westbury Conservative Club and an Amy Winehouse tribute at Bath’s Odd Down AFC & Social Club. Level III have a “One Step Beyond-ska and punk club-night.
Elsewhere in Swindon, homemade Damm at Coleview Community Centre and P!nk tribute, Beautiful Trauma play Brookhouse Farm, and a Pearl Jam tribute, Earl Jam at the Vic.
Sophie Matthews explores the links between the visual and the aural in a one-hour presentation at the Merchant’s House, Marlborough. Drawing on the works of great painters including Brueghel, Hogarth and Rigaud, Sophie presents a feast of images featuring historical woodwind instruments in their original social context interspersed with live performances of historical music using authentic instruments.
Sunday 29th – Nearly there, and breath…. Yin Yoga & Gong Bath at Devizes Corn Exchange, The Sunday Sessions continue at The White Bear with Matt Cook and Gary Hall at The Southgate. There’s a Comic-Con at Bath Pavilion, to be frank, it’s a commercial affair rather than a genuine “comic” con, with cosplay, gaming and meeting vague TV actors and ex-Gladiators, but might be fun for the kids.
That’s it, folks, March done, save Bradford on Avon Folk Club have Geoff Lakeman on Tuesday 31st. Let’s regroup in April, but feedback on these articles are needed. Do they work for you? Long-winded I know, but in order to fit it in. Devizine is a work in progress, I enjoy and need to know what’s working and what’s not. So, if you’ve read this far, I salute you! Tell me about it!
Huzzah, hurrah, hurray, whoop, bravo, hoot, shout, shriek, hosanna, alleluia and other synonyms for expressions of delight which I’ve shamelessly purloined from Word’s dictionary. Do I care? It’s March, time of the Mad March Hare, spring springing, birds a-singing in the blossoming treetops; after such a damp winter it’s refreshing to look forward to the April showers season!
Why do we even call them April showers when they tend to carry through from March to June?! Nevertheless, it’s warmer rain, with momentary lapses of sunshine, those little teasers of spring; don’t blink you might miss them. Still, just like a bear, I’m awakening from my hibernation, and heading downstream for a salmon supper!
In celebration of the feast, here’s some choosiest stuff to do over the coming month, as fished from our event calendar. The list is by no means comprehensive, you know the score by now, it’s updated (nearly) every day, so do try to keep up. Facebook is a good idea, if you do that, our page pumps posts out like Dwayne Johnson on a promise. Also, consider signing up for a weekly email, I don’t spam you, just once a week bulletin of what we’ve done and what’s to come.
First fortnight in March then, here it comes; the second half will follow…… I say that, then like a goldfish it’s a notion that’s gone in three seconds! Also, I can’t provide the links, but it’s all listed on our home page with links; it’ll take till April to do that, computer running at the speed of snail and all!
Devizes: First of the month is Sunday, nice way to ease into it. Georgina, Landlady of the White Bear, is running the London Marathon for Dorothy House, so there’s a pub quiz at 6:30pm to fundraise; £2.50 per person, max. 6 people on a team. Great Scott! St James Church hosts the monthly Devizes Silver Screen Film Club; Back to the Future showing this month. A great social meeting for our elders, and Driving Miss Daisy can provide transport.
If you’re looking for something wilder, The Three Horseshoes in Bradford on Avon is the place to head, where those Back-Wood Redeemers will be twisting those dark country and blues riffs into their splendid frenzy. Highly recommended from Devizine, tell them we sent you!
PSG has their regular Monday “Devizes session of Pop Soul & Gospel Choir,” at the Parish Rooms on Long Street, from 8pm until 9:30pm. Incredibly welcoming, PSG currently expect between 25 and 30 members on a Monday, and inform us “it’s a fantastic sound!” Join them for a fantastic start to your week!
Tuesday 3rd then, and it’s Devizes Film Club at the Town Hall. The Farewell (PG) from China, 2019. Director: Lulu Wang. To western eyes, this film has a curious plot but it becomes understandable in the telling. Billi has left China aged six, to be brought up in New York. Twenty-four years later, she is called back to attend a wedding that has been arranged purely to conceal from her grandmother that she is dying of lung cancer. Such kindly subterfuge is apparently common practice but Billi finds it hard to accept. She sees again many family members and it is her gradual reacquaintance with her Chinese heritage that provides this compelling, spiky exploration of family duty. A heartfelt, funny, emotional and rewarding film. The screenplay and production are wonderful, prompting The Irish Critic to call it the Best Film of the Year.
Wednesday is the regular acoustic jam at the Southgate. Marlborough’s folk-roots club has Edgelarks at the Town Hall; duo Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin combine exquisite folk with influences as diverse as the blues and Indian classical slide guitar, to create a sound that is “subtle, atmospheric and bravely original” (The Guardian.) Alternatively, one of the most romantic operas ever written, La Bohème is showing at Bath Forum.
Even if not for the weather, Thursday 5th should get heated. Extinction Rebellion Devizes and Marlborough debate with MP Danny Kruger at St Mary’s Devizes.
Friday night in Devizes looks loud; hard-edged vintage blues with Barrelhouse at the Southgate will yowl like the Howlin’ Wolf. To contend, AC/DC tribute, Hell’s Bells play the Exchange, but want for a local, loud, classic rock cover-band, the awesome Homer play The Crown at Bishop’s Canning’s, and you’ll probably hear them from the Market Place!
Lighter rock n roll tributes come from Melksham’s Assembly Hall, where you’ll find Buddy Holly and The Cricketers. Or Bath Forum has Elvis show, The King is Back, and Johnny Walker presents Sounds Of The 70s at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre.
The 7th, first Saturday of the month then, here it is: A songwriter genuinely literate, sometimes almost literary, Ian Parker is an original craftsman. Expressed through a distinctive bitter-sweet vocal delivery, Ian’s songs hold nothing back. His ability and willingness to share with his audience, naked honesty and genuine emotion, is what sets him apart, and The Long Street Blues Club welcomes him and his band back. Meanwhile, a little more light-hearted, Teachers Pet Rock Show comes to The Cavalier Community Hall. If you’ve seen School of Rock, expect an East/West Midlands styled tribute, promising to be a “gut busting, face melting glorious rock show that’s suitable for all ages!”
There’s acoustic fingerpicking, electric guitar thumping rhythms, harmonica and a loop pedal at the Southgate with Jon Pollard, while Marlborough’s Lamb has the high-energy classic rock covers band, The Electric Troubadours. Down t’other end of that enlarged High Street, The Wellington has its Welly-Fest; check their Facebook page as there’s stuff going on the whole month long. Comes to ahead for reggae fans though, on Saturday when our friends Razah and Knati P bring their sound system; oh yes.
Tributes in Trow-Vegas with Abbamania at The Civic. Whereas it’s a Britpop tribute double-header at the Melksham Assembly Hall with Oasis Maybe and Ultimate Stone Roses, and always worth catching, The Blue Rose Band play The Talbot Inn, Calne.
Would you Adam & Eve it, Sunday March 8th is my birthday? Thank you, it’s just a number. Not spoiled for choice as I’ve only one gig listed at the moment, but I do love the White Bear, where Phil Jinder Dewhurst continues their regular Sunday Sessions. Talking Sunday sessions, Swindon promoters Songs of Praise do similar at The Tuppenny, find the Richard Wileman & the Amy Fry Experience there this Sunday 8th.
Second week of March then, then we’re done and you go vacuum the hallway, or whatever else is outstanding; never ends, does it? Extinction Rebellion Devizes and Marlborough holds workshop “Roots of a Regenerative Culture,” Monday 7pm at The Barge on Honey Street. This training demystifies how to make everything we do regenerative and, as such, it is the key to understanding how to build resilience within ourselves and our communities.
Tuesday 10th there be a Quiz Night at The Vaults, Devizes in aid of Opendoors. And the Devizes Film Club has a Mexican movie, The Chambermaid (15) at the Town Hall. Director Lila Avilés’ first film quietly pulses with life in a multi-storey luxury hotel in Mexico. We see the engrossing work of a young, single mother trying her best to be promoted by thorough work, and to study in what spare time she is allowed. There is no life-saving Hollywood romance, just the drudgery of her daily work, problems with her fellow workers and managers and her efforts to improve her life. Cartol acts with sublime understanding of her role. With persistence and wry humour, she rearranges her tasks for variety, wickedly teases the window-cleaners, goes to evening classes and reads Jonathan Livingston Seagull. A subtle gem of a film, beautifully shot against the boring and colourless back-rooms, lush guest-rooms and the stunning city views.
Wednesday 11th at Marlborough’s Merchants House Michael Hart presents “Protestantism and the English Character.” While one of the most intriguing and exciting collaborations on today’s folk scene, Peter Knight, legendary violinist and ex-Bellowhead member John Spiers brings an evening of improvisation and invention of mysterious tunes to Pound Arts in Corsham. In Devizes, it’s time again for the acoustic jam at the trusty Southgate.
Blossoms play the Bath Forum on Thursday 12th, revealing their new album, Foolish Loving Spaces. They explain, “The album is a pure celebration of love in all of its splendid and baffling guises, toying with the so-called sins of lust and forbidden infatuation. It’s inspired by a summer spent listening to ‘Stop Making Sense’, ‘The Joshua Tree’ & ‘Screamadelica’.” If you’re in Swindon though, head for The Tuppenny, where the awesome Jake Martin and Jess Silk perform acoustic. Acoustic, made for Thursday, eh? If you disagree, check out the Winchester Gate, Salisbury where top Ramones tribute, The Ramonas are guaranteed to liven it up.
Friday is the night when the county finally gets ready for the debut gig of super-group The Lost Trades. Highly anticipated amalgamation of our good friends, Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin. We wish you the very best of luck, guys. They’ll be supported by Timid Deer and Vince Bell at Trowbridge’s Village Pump.
Meanwhile, keeping Kalm ‘n’ Kind in Devizes, there’s a Restorative Yoga class with Kim Pierpoint, a Fundraising Quiz Evening for Opendoors at 7.30. Philippa and Declan Morgan are running the quiz at Wiltshire Museum. Tickets £10, including nibbles and a glass of wine. Reserve your ticket online and pay on the door! https://devizesopendoors.yapsody.com/event/index/533176/quiz-evening
On my never-ending list to do is get to “Pelly,” kudos for putting on live music gigs, guys, just got work early in the mornings! Drew Bryant is live at The Pelican Inn on Friday, Lewis Clark & The Essentials with folk, soul, and blues at The Southgate, and there’s a Queen tribute called The Bohemians at the Corn Exchange. Comedy Night at Bradford’s Boat House with Jake Lambert, and the amazing Frank Turner plays Bath Forum.
Tuesday is St Patrick’s Day, but Devizes’ Cavalier can’t wait, and present a St Patrick’s theme weekend with those brilliant Day Breakers in the Community Hall on Saturday 14th. On the other side, three-piece rock originals, the Lightnin’ Hobos play The Southgate, and if you’re not spoiled for choice this Saturday, I don’t know when you will be, as the one and only Pete Gage plays with Innes Sibun and Jon Amor, all backed by Ruzz Guitar Revue at the Sports Club, corrrrr, that’ll be awesome.
Extinction Rebellion Devizes and Marlborough are back at the The Barge, Honeystreet for a gathering, where the evening presents a stripped back, 3-piece version of Troyka Bristol, Troyka Mala. They play a stormy mixture of traditional and original songs and rhythms from the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans with brushes of Klezmer and the Middle East; intrigued? I am.
Powerhouse Gospel Choir play Melksham Assembly Hall while Jon Hopkins is at Bath Forum. For something more off planet, stoner rock and electro art-punk are promised at the Three Horseshoes, Bradford on Avon, with Head Noise, Conspiracy of Chaplains and The Forgetting Curve.
That’s about all, we will follow this up with the final fortnight of March, when I get around to it. I do, though wish I’d stop promising these things! One thing you can depend on, Saturday in Swindon will rock with Splat The Rat at The Merlin on Drove Road, unfortunately, I cannot recommend Talk In Code’s new single Talk Like That enough, see our review. Note, the launch party is at the Castle on this particular Saturday, the 14th, and I can’t think of a better way to finish this lengthy roundup off!
One of the most intriguing blurbs to a local event to catch my eye on recent online travels, in this humble but perpetual quest to bring you news of happenings, has to be a new performance from a Bristol/South-West theatre group, aptly named the Modest Genius Theatre Company. “Truth Sluth: Epistemological Investigations for the Modern Age,” is touring locally, and coming to Trowbridge Library on Tuesday 7th April, Warminster’s on the morning of Wednesday 8th April, the afternoon at Devizes Library on the 8th and Calne on Thursday 9th.
Targeted at everyone aged seven and up, Truth Sluth is a choose-your-own-adventure comedy show that will make laugh, think critically and question everything. It explores contemporary issues surrounding fact and fiction, and asks “ever wondered who you can trust? Ever read a blog and doubted its veracity? (Hummm; ed!) Is your newsfeed feeding you fake fodder? Truth Sleuth is on the case of fake news.”
Pre- booked tickets are £5 and are available from www.modestgenius.co.uk or telephone 01249 701628. Tickets on the door are £7 (cash only for on the door tickets.) Then, be ready to “join Truth Sleuth to gather clues, make decisions and steer the action. Come on down to the birthplace of information itself, the oracle with a public toilet: your local library.”
The Modest Genius Theatre company are fast becoming renowned for their innovative, dark physical comedy about social taboos. Based in Bristol and the South West, the company was formed in 2015 by graduates of the Lecoq, Gaulier and Dell’arte theatre schools, Tristan Green, Sidney Robb and Tess Cartwright. Using clown, mime, physical theatre, storytelling, movement and music they mesmerise audiences with poignant material that takes you on an emotional journey. “We love the extremes,” they tell, “and give our audience permission to feel how they feel.”
Truth Sluth: Epistemological Investigations for the Modern Age is hot topical comedy, in collaboration with Canadian playwright Greg Cochrane, and Pound Arts. Using physical comedy, storytelling and clever wordplay, this is devised theatre that obliterates the fourth wall. I don’t know about you lovely lot; I’m delighted to hear local libraries hosting something so intriguing and hope it’s the beginning of more such performances.
For want of a feel-good story this stormy weekend, what a marvellous opportunity for the kids at MACS Theatre School, as a group performed a musical melody Halloween show on the main stage at Disneyland Paris this week. “Each and every one of them were absolutely fantastic, and a pleasure to take on the trip,” the Devizes theatre school announced.
A proud moment for the school, and a memory that’ll last a lifetime for the group. Twelve-year old Evie, who performed, said, “I had the best time with MACs last night, attending has given me the confidence I never knew I had.” Many other parents and children have expressed their delight at the chance. It’s an achievement proving what we’ve said before, “Mac’s Theatre School is refining local drama and putting Devizes on the map!”
With a high quality of standards, Mac’s aim is to “create and produce theatre that excites, entertains but more importantly inspires. Giving young people a chance to shine, to challenge themselves and exceed expectations,” and I think this news goes to show just that, if you’ll pardon the pun!
“We’re so incredibly proud of them,” said Emily Dodd, assistant director and Mini Mac coordinator, “the show was a huge success!” Held in anticipation since the wonderful “Our House” performance, I asked if she could give us a hint as to what might be next for MACs, or if it’s top secret?!
“We’re taking a break from big shows this year so we can spend time with our own little mini Mac! However, we will continue with our full membership groups, which run on a Wednesday and our mini Mac’s sessions on a Monday.” Membership fee is just £15 for weekly workshops. Weekly workshops run as Mini Macs (aged 5-10), First Stages Group (aged 11-13) or the Centre Stage group (aged 14-16.) Places are available, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As for me, I’d risk a roller-coaster ride, but I’m not singing and dancing; no one needs to see that, even Mickey Mouse! I’m just wishing all those involved my very best wishes for the future. Well done to all!
Now a trail of leisurely pursuits, remnants of an industrial thoroughfare are still visible on The Kennet and Avon Canal. While some lay dormant and dilapidated since its decline in the 1850s, many have been put to good use. Enhancing the tourist attraction, cafes and inns make use of warehouses and wharfs, but none perhaps as much as the small, 18th century warehouse, adjacent to the Kennet & Avon Canal Museum at the Devizes Wharf.
It’s been home for The Wharf Theatre for the past forty years, officially opening on the 16th May 1980 with a production of J B Priestley’s When We Are Married. Prior to purpose-built arts centres, Devizes was the only local town with its own theatre, and it remains the only dedicated theatre in East Wiltshire.
Formed in 1947, The Devizes and District Amateur Dramatic Society, were never happy using the Palace Cinema or Corn Exchange, and though it gave them the name Wharf Theatre in ‘73, even the first premises in Couch Lane was unsuitable. It’d take another six years before Kennet District Council redeveloped the Wharf, and the site as we know it today was reserved.
Handy, perhaps that the then treasurer, John Hurley, was former assistant chief executive at Kennet District Council, but the fact we have our own theatre is largely due to him and wife Beryl. However, if you think the theatre is all a bit hoity-toity for you, consider it was renovated with labour provided by youth, under a Job Creation Scheme, and part-funded by the Manpower Services Commission, a quango addressing unemployment. It’s said all members chipped in to help, working alongside offenders on community service!
If you’re still not convinced, thinking this is all before my time, (me too, honest!) stick around as Devizine wishes the Wharf a happy 40th birthday, and with their autumn-winter season brochure out, highlight what’s happening over the coming season. With an incorrigible womaniser, ghostly horror, an amateur boxer and a pimp, skiffle and comedy songs, flap-tastic family comedy and pantomime, oh, and Boycie, there may be something for you.
It starts 23rd -28th September with a ghost story, and everyone loves a ghost story. The Turn of the Screw, which we previewed here.
On Friday 4th October they trace back a plethora of comedy songs. Probably The best Comedy Songs in the World Ever…. Maybe! covers a history of comedy songs, from Noel Coward and Lonnie Donegan to Monty Python and The Goons. Bernie Cribbins is in there, and of course, if they need any props for the customary Benny Hill song, I’ve a milk bottle or twenty.
Also note I can do a cracking impression of both Boycie and Marlene, but not to order. John Challis has an audience with on 12th October, revealing on-set secrets from Only Fools and Horses and the actors Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst. You know this one makes sense, Rodders.
Comedy a running theme for the early autumn, Alan Ayckbourn’s Living Together runs from 21st to 26th October, introducing us to the incorrigible womaniser, Norman, and his family of recognisable middle-class types whose personalities are never quite as predictable as they seem.
One of the UK’s beloved comedians and impressionists, Duncan Norvelle and award-winning singer and entertainer, Maggie Regan visit the Wharf Theatre on November 1st. Combing eccentric humour with high energy roots music, it’s all funny songs, crazy costumes and virtuoso music with The London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra on Friday 8th November.
In residence at Pound Arts, Corsham, but taking their show internationally, expect flap-tastic family comedy, when The Last Baguette Theatre Company presents The Bird Show on the 9th. Suitable for the “whole brood,” including fledglings from three plus, this madcap and touching show about birds facing changes to their habitat uses live music, puppetry and lots of silly bird jokes.
Now, I don’t wanna think about it just yet, sure you don’t either, not while the sun is still shining, but the big C wouldn’t be the big C without pantomime, and the Wharf has Cinderella running from Friday 6th to Saturday 14th December.
New decade, 2020 then, and nobel laureate Harold Pinter’s Tony Award-winning 1964 two-act play, The Homecoming runs from Monday 27th January to Saturday 1st February. Directed by Lewis Cowen, this is vintage Pinter, but its twists are worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.
When Teddy, an expatriate American philosophy professor, brings his wife Ruth to visit his old home in London, he finds his eccentric family still living in the house; his father, a retired butcher, his uncle, a chauffeur and his brothers, an amateur boxer and a pimp. In the conflict that follows, it is Ruth who becomes the focus of the family’s struggle for supremacy.
For me it’s not enough to say something is “weird.” To start, is it a “good” weird or a “bad” weird? If the opposite of weird is normal, and normal considered boring, then weird must surely entertain. It’s subjective; depends where you sit on the border of what constitutes an acceptable limit of weirdness. When it goes beyond this level maybe it fails to entertain you, by being so weird you cannot process any logic or reason within it, ergo “bad” weird, in your opinion.
Yet illogical or plain nonsensical has always been a backbone of humour. Many strive to extend said border, for if Spike Milligan or Monty Python pushed the limits in surrealism, Miguel de Cervantes did too, 350 years beforehand. I’d suggest there’s something very Don Quixote about Los Galindos’ Udel.
Humour at its most basic level is visual, a baby will find perpetual peek-a-boo hilarious. Similarly, visual humour relies on those classic formulas; falling over, sudden disappearance and reappearance and dumbfounded surprise. Akin to silent movies, voices are minimal and slapstick in Los Galindos is bountiful, and executed with distinction. But it is weird.
See, I like weird, strive for weirdness, savour weird things, chat to sane people hopefully making me appear weirder. Perhaps I set the barrier of what constitutes too weird high. If you agree, you will love this show. If you’ve wandered past the Green and seen a Mongolian yurt and thought, well how is a circus act supposed to be staged in there, without spoilers I’ll enlighten; that’s part of the joke.
If you’re thinking where does this article stop being a thought on the word weird, and become a review for this fantastically curious show, then you’re already putting barriers at your chosen level. For I don’t want to ruin the surprise, for the show continues through to Monday, but it left me wondering at what point the show actually started. Could be as soon as everyone was seated, even when we were kindly ushered in, perhaps just outside the door. Maybe all walking past, contemplating said notion, well how is a circus act supposed to be staged in there, have already become the audience of sorts.
It’s a prime example of what I’m getting at, the act is the production, the production is an act, the props are parts of the stage and yurt, and the yurt, stage, and possibly the audience too are the props. The costumes and overall impression are modest, yet charming. The acrobatics are deliberately played down like Tommy Cooper’s magic, but are exceptionally skilful.
Wrapped in essence of a humbled, poor circus family, who overdramatically welcome you, their efforts to make you comfortable and enjoy their show is the clowning element, perhaps it’s only narrative. The hazard of these disguised clowns executing daredevil circus stunts within inches of your face is worrying, and part of its attraction which will leave you in awe.
If you’re the sort expecting a traditional request, “I need a volunteer from the audience,” disregard your expectations. This is a unique and original take on circus noir, it’s clowning and acrobatics combined in a manner leaving you spellbound and pondering what exactly just happened, and why.
There was a point in the act, without giving the game away, where the doors blew open, and in viewing a glance outside there was a gentle reminder you were sitting on the Green in Devizes, and not immersed in a scene from Don Quixote staged by amateurs with a homemade theatre, in some remote mountainous village north of Barcelona.
It’s fantastically abridged circus, something radical moulded into a Mediterranean era of yore, and honestly, something you’ve not see in Devizes before, or probably ever will again, even if you consider Devizes is weird!
The forthcoming new season of productions at our Wharf Theatre, Devizes, kicks off with a haunting Henry James adaption they claim is not for the nervy. The Turn of the Screw, a 1898 horror novella by Henry James, first published as a serial in Collier’s Weekly magazine, has been adapted for stage by Ken Whitmore and is directed by Lewis Cowen.
Running from Monday 23rd September to Saturday 28th at 7.30pm, The Turn of the Screw is set in a sprawling manor house in Bly, in the first half of the 19th Century. Henry James’ classic is one of the most famous ghost stories in the English language, and is a foundation for academics pledged to New Criticism. With contradictory understandings, critics attempt to regulate the precise nature of the evil implied. Others claim its brilliance grades its skill in creating an intimate sense of misperception and insecurity.
Miss Grey is hired as governess to two orphaned siblings, Miles, 10 and 8 year old Flora. However, she soon discovers a dark secret and becomes embroiled in a supernatural struggle with the ghosts of the former valet and governess. She is forced to fight for the children despite fearing for her life and questioning her sanity.
Tickets (£12/under 16s £10) can be purchased from Ticketsource at: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-wharf-theatre/events or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or by ringing 03336 663 366. To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a new Autumn/Winter brochure which is available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.
Swindon’s Shoebox Theatre are getting excited to welcome Edalia Day to the Theatre, as part of their Artist Residency Programme, and invite children aged 7-12 to join in the fun!
Edalia will be developing a new piece of theatre called ‘Spectacular Spacebots.’ It’s a new family show about autism and space adventures. The children will be sharing a relaxed, work-in-progress performance with an after-show Q&A on Saturday the 21st of September.
Join Zee, robot adventurer, as they battle space wizards, gunslingers and a quizzical hippopotamus, asking what does it mean to be human. And how far do you have to go to be accepted as one…
But the fun doesn’t stop there! There will also be an opportunity for to take part in a FREE pre-show workshop with Edalia.
In this physical workshop, you’ll play improvisation games and learn how Edalia makes theatre. Exploring the voice and movement of digital characters and acting alongside them, using a mixture of wordplay, puppetry, chorus and physical comedy.
Workshop: Saturday, 21st September, 11am-12.00 Midday
How much? FREE!
Suitable for ages 7-12
Work in Progress Performance and Q&A: Saturday, 21st September, 13.00pm
How much: £3
Suitable for all the family aged 5+
Approx. runtime: 45min
Hey, get your flaxen Barnett around this; Legally Blonde, rom-com, chick-flick adaptation of Amanda Brown’s novel of the same name is eighteen years old. Yeah, like, I know right. Two years later they made the sequel; although a smash at the box office, it never raised a reviewer’s eyebrow, banally crashing the blonde versus brunette joke which Archie Comics carried for over seventy years.
Yet the initial movie stands the test of time, I like it and chick-flick generally isn’t my thing; lack of spaceships blowing things up, see?! The foreseeable gags enhanced by Reese Witherspoon’s amusing characteristics, at a time when The Spice Girls’ run of “girl power” was fading. Challenging the blonde stereotype with comical narrative was a peg in female equality and certainly the break for Reese; ummm, Reese Witherspoon…… where was I? Oh yes, female equality.
Like many trailblazing films, it received a theatrical reworking by 2007. Premiered on Broadway, Legally Blonde had an efficacious three-year-run at London’s Savoy and picked up many awards. Now, directed by Oliver Phipps and Hayley Baxter with musical direction from Naomi Ibbetson, it has found its way, least a “Jnr” version, to our own Wharf Theatre.
Legally Blonde Jr. The Musical opens at the Wharf Wednesday 24th July, runs until Saturday 27th (7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee) and promises to be pink: “The Musical is a fun and sassy journey of self-empowerment and expanding horizons, with instantly recognizable songs, this show will leave cast members and audiences alike seeing pink!”
Plot being, if the film passed you by: The Delta Nu sorority president, Elle Woods, seems to have it all; good looks, a relationship with the campus catch and a great taste in clothes. However, her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her to attend Harvard Law School. Determined not to lose him Elle uses hard work and a fair degree of charm to get a place there herself so that she can prove she is serious and win him back. Whilst there she tackles stereotypes, snobbery and scandal but she also makes some great new friends along the way and gradually discovers how her new found knowledge of the law can really help others.
With music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, again it’s a rousing and prevalent choice for the delightfully quaint Wharf Theatre. Tickets, £12 with under 16s £10, can be purchased from Ticketsource, at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, or by ringing 03336 663 366. To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a Spring/Summer brochure which is available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.
Do you like opera? What about “light” opera? With rather a lot of comedy thrown in? Good – because you’re really going to love this!
Last night I was privileged to attend the full dress rehearsal for “The Mikado” by the splendid White Horse Opera company. I was expecting something perhaps still a little rough round the edges, maybe the odd fluffed line, the occasional note or cue to be missed, but there was really none of that. The company had been rehearsing for months, had chosen their principals carefully, and were absolutely up for it.
Yet again – another gem in the entertainment crown of Devizes – we are so lucky to have these people doing this stuff!
This particular bit of nonsense, a “comic opera” in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and words by W.S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaboration, opened in March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, the second-longest run for any work of musical theatre, and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Since then it’s been translated into numerous languages, and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. The setting is Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, which allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. And the company has done an excellent job of the now-traditional exercise in updating the lyrics of some songs to reflect politics Britain in 2019. Particularly pointed was Ko-Ko’s (The Lord High Executioner’s) song about who he’d like to execute (“I’ve got a little list, and they’ll none of them be missed”).
It’s always difficult, and sometimes a little invidious, to pick out individual performances but I think it’s worth mentioning particularly Graham Billing, who delivered a hilariously nervous and dithering Ko-Ko, Charles Leeming as a wonderfully pompous and self-important Pooh-Bar (Lord High Everything Else), Lisa House as Yum-Yum, and the resilient Ian Diddams, playing The Mikado splendidly as a power-crazed modern dictator. But there were strong performances all round, from every member of the cast. It was so obvious that they were thoroughly enjoying what they do, delivering a top-notch production.
I’m not going to give the plot away, nor would I even attempt to summarise the complicated ins and outs leading to the hilarious denouement – suffice to say that the story is stuffed with disguises, mistaken identities, the fickleness of emotions, and the usual human drivers of fear and greed. The main characters ham it up splendidly, and deliver the songs with confidence and panache, squeezing every last drop of comedy out of the script.
Given that it’s performed in modern dress, sung in English, and is a laugh-a-minute, it’s completely accessible and enjoyable. So, even if you thought that you didn’t like “opera”, I can assure you that you are going to love this. Thoroughly entertaining stuff!
It’s going to be performed on Saturday 15th June at St Mary’s church at 7.30pm. Tickets are an absolute bargain at only a tenner, and are available via Ticketsource or the company’s website at https://whitehorseopera.co.uk/
Future productions by WHO include:
• Wednesday 30th Oct to Saturday 2nd November @ Lavington School – Bizet’s “Carmen”
• Tuesday 17th December – venue TBA – Christmas Concert
• Friday 20th March 2020 – venue TBA – Spring Concert
And if you’re interested in getting involved yourself, whether singing, playing or behind the scenes, just head over to their website. You can also support them by becoming a “Friend” of the company for £20 p.a. Remember – they are an amateur company, supported by volunteer efforts and by voluntary contributions from their supporters.
Hark, the darling buds of May. Already looking quite blossomy isn’t it? Well, blossoming too is stuff to do in and around our local neighbourhood, and a few weeks ago I presented you with a lengthy look at what’s on during the first fortnight; see here.
Now though, sit down and brace yourself for some shocking news. I have, actually produced the second part of the monthly preview, and here it is! Though promised with previous months, I tend to side-track, or just plain scatter-brain and not carried it through. Not so this time, you don’t have to thank me, unless you have a choc n nut Cornetto.
Week 3: Mon 13th – Sunday 19th May
Regular sing-a-long at Devizes Folk Club in the Lamb, Devizes on Monday, similar on Tuesday if your go to the Bradford Folk Club, 8pm in the Cellar Bar of the Swan Hotel. Meanwhile, St James Wine Vaults in Bath where Radical Westie Productions presents Daisy, Television Villain, Ravetank and Devizine favourites Nerve Endings; £3 door tax.
Wednesday 15th, and Peter Vaughan does pasta at Vaughan’s Kitchen Cookery School, later don’t forget the acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes.
There’s Bach Suites by Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment: Young Artists Anima Fidis Quartet at the Wiltshire Music Centre Bradford on Avon.
Thursday’s is acoustic night at The Royal Oak, Corsham. Hannah Rose Platt and Black Sheep Apprentice at The Tuppenny, Swindon or tribute night with The Quo Experience at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
There’s a barn dance on Friday 17th at the West Lavington Hall. Usually wouldn’t make a song and dance out of such, but all proceeds go to the wonderful charity Arts Together; read about my visit, and the great work they do, here. Please support Arts Together, they’ve music, buffet, bar and raffle, see the poster for details. Future Devizine Presents nights will also like to donate to Arts Together.
Sheer Music is back in Devizes, the Cellar Bar has Smokin’ Donuts; one-part Carter USM and t’other festival cult hero, Doozer McDooze. Brilliant indie-pop Talk In Code and the talented Jezilyn Martyn support. £7 advance from Sheer Music, a tenner on the door.
But if you thought Devizes was a one-gig Friday town, you’d be very much mistaken. There’s Johnny 2 Bad, an eight-piece boasting to be the UK’s number one UB40 tribute at The Cavalier Community Hall. Except the reggae train-spotter in me upheaves that Johnny Too Bad is actually by The Slickers and only covered by UB40, eh? Bit of reggae in the Vizes, though; never going to knock it. £10 in advance and should be great night.
It’s rather retrospective in the Southgate too, with sixties garage and Mod band, Absolute Beginners at The Southgate playing a debut in the town. Three-piece playing covers of songs by The Who, The Small Faces, The Kinks, The Eyes, The Creation, The Jam, Secret Affair, Squire, and The Purple Hearts.
Without a cinema, the Assembly Hall in Melksham shows movies, The Favourite is on Friday. Break Cover are at The Talbot, Calne. An Open Mic at The Pump, Trowbridge. Comedy Night at the Boat House, Bradford on Avon. Tensheds live at the Rolly in Swindon and amusingly named Antarctic Monkeys at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Back on reggae for Saturday, although other events are available, it’s Devzine’s second gig of the month, a reggae and ska night at the Cellar Bar with Knati P and Razah and I’ll be warming up for them with a ska show live. Look, again I’m asking you to come along, listing door damage as a fiver but as long as you give us what you can, that’s good enough. For all the proceeds go to homeless charity, Devizes Opendoors. For want of a quieter evening Opendoors also have a Quiz Night from 7pm at Nursteed Community Centre.
Those Truzzy Boys play the Conservative Club in Devizes, £3 on the door, Drew Bryant at The Southgate, and Sound Affects support the Dusk Brothers at the Cavalier’s Ameripolitan Music Club. Meanwhile, The Wharf Theatre welcome back Hancock clone, James Hurn, with new scripts.
Brother from Another at the Woodbridge Inn, Pewsey, and Woodborough Social Club has Humdinger. Blues Bros & The Commitments at Melksham Assembly Hall. Còig at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon while the Neeld Chippenham has medium Derek Acorah.
Fresh from Montreal LG Breton and drummer Marco Dionne joins Phil Cooper for his Vise-Versa tour, closet to us is Saturday at the Village Pump, Trowbridge, other dates here: http://phil-cooper.co.uk/tour-dates
Sunday 19th sees the Chippenham Soap Box Derby and John Etheridge’s Sweet Chorus is at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon.
Week 4: 20th -26th May
Devizes Folk Club down The Lamb on Monday, An Evening with Graham Gooch at the Neeld, Chippenham on Tuesday. Acoustic Jam at The Southgate, The Royal Ballet’s Mixed Triple Bill at Wiltshire Music Centre, and The Waterboys @ Bath Forum on Wednesday.
Thursday is Acoustic Oak night at The Royal Oak, Corsham. Boxing Day and All Better play Level III in Swindon, and Carus Thompson is at The Beehive. But if you ever doubted summer is on its way, the bank holiday truly kicks off festival season, with Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering in W. Midlands, or most fruitfully funky and stunningly popular dance fest, Shindig starts in Bruton. Shindig Festival is a glorious mash up of a gig, a house party, circus show, comedy night, a wellbeing retreat and kid’s party. No main stages, just an arrangement of stretch marquees, so you can be in amongst it, or chill on the grass. Kids can learn to DJ, breakdance and urban art.
This crazy weekend sees Chippenham Folk Festival starting Friday, as does Lechlade Festival. With Salisbury Live beginning, and Frome’s R&B festival with Frankie Miller’s Full House at the Cheese & Grain, you’re spoiled for choice.
Back in Devizes, Friday 24th, Bob Drury pays tribute to Neil Diamond at The Wharf Theatre. Adriano Adewele, Gwilym Simcock and Jason Rebello are at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon. While in Swindon, the Wyvern Theatre presents The Rolling Stones Story, Sheer Music has Press To Meco at Level III and there’s a Ska’mageddon at the Vic with SN Dubstation and King’s Alias @ The Vic, but for real roots adventurers, try RDK Hi-Fi meets Roots Inspiration @ Black Swan, Bristol. I’m steering clear of Bristol as there’s too much to list, but that one will go off.
Saturday then, the 25th. Long Street Blues Club celebrate the music of one of rock’s best-loved icons Paul Kossoff, with May Kossoff the band. A chilled but robust night is promised at the Southgate, with Nick Tann’s British folk take on Americana heartland traditions.
It’s also time for Bromham to host the second combined cider and music extravaganza, OwlFest at the Owl, obviously. Did this last year, loved this last year, although I’ve no line-up info for you, you can bet your Bromham dollar this’ll be great. Another to watch is Marland’s showpiece, Gladstonebury at the Gladstone Arms, Chippenham, expect Steve Morano, the Sweet Swing Trio, The Chicken Teddys and Burbank.
Loud soulful, happy vibes will come from The Pilot, Melksham where Big Mama’s Banned play. The Gimme Gimme Gimmes and Devizine favs, The One Chord Wonders are at St James Wine Vaults, Bath, Frome’s R&B Festival continues at the Cheese & Grain with Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band.
The old English spelling of Savernake Forest, Safernoc inspires an intriguing event in Marlborough on Saturday too; “violin, voice and banjo music from the 16th century to the present day, world premiere of Paul Elwood’s Safernoc; a series of compositions for mezzo soprano Alice Simmons and violinist Tam Coates by composer Paul Elwood. Both Simmons and Coates live near the forest and both have found inspiration in the shadows of that ecosystem. The text by the composer is a play on trees and an imagined impression of Savernake taken from Dante, Bernini’s sculpture of Daphne transforming into a tree, and Mexican painter (Sister) Juana Beatriz de la Fuente’s, “The Tree of Life.” Admission £10, email email@example.com for tickets.
Alex Roberts Live at The Southgate on Sunday 26th, the wonderful Sugar Motown returns to the Three Crowns. While Dr Feelgood plays the Frome R&B Festival at the Cheese & Grain.
End of May, Mon 27th – Friday 31st
Proper West Country, it’s the Coopers Hill Cheese Roll at Brockworth on Monday, Frome’s R&B Festival has Nick Lowe & Los Straightjackets.
With Bandeoke at Chippenham’s Neeld and Jackie & Felix Byrne at the Bradford Folk Club, that makes up Tuesday, while Wednesday it’s the World Music Club at The Beehive in Swindon, and of course, an acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes.
You can Meet the Gruffalo at Hillworth Park in Devizes on Thursday 30th, for his 20th birthday, Devizes Books bring the books, with a trail around the park, a prize draw and guest appearances, should be fun for kids of all ages.
Acoustic Oak at The Royal Oak, Corsham and Jonathan James is Discovering Music at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon, while tribute The Commitments Experience are at the Neeld, Chippenham and Gaz Coombes is at the Cheese @ Grain.
That’s the month of May done, Friday 31st the Brodsky Quartet are at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon and Salisbury Live continues. Other than this, seems like a quiet Friday, save for the fact it’s time for the opening of the Devizes Arts Festival, I think it’s the best line-up yet, starting with An Audience with John Simpson at Corn Exchange. Check our preview of the festival here, and I will be highlighting some of the separate events as the month goes on.
More details of all events here are on our event calendar which makes up Devizine’s busy home page, but bear in mind this is not a exhaustive list, the calendar is updated (nearly) every day, so keep checking for updates; too much of it to continuously post to Facebook, you need to check in every now and then, or you might miss something you need tickets for.
Have a grand and blossoming May, it’s building up to a great summer ahead!
As big chief of the Invitation Theatre Company and partner of Anthony, conductor of The Full Tone Orchestra, you cannot deny, Jemma Brown knows a thing or two about performing arts, so I’ve pinched her words of praise after watching Things I Know to be True at the Wharf Theatre…….
Jemma Brown – 26.4.19
I don’t think I have ever heard so many people, prior to me going to see something, telling me how incredible it is. So, it was with a gently raised eyebrow, that I went to see Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know to be True – directed by a friend, with good friends in it, on a stage that has an awful lot of personal connection, I girded my loins. Now before I launch into what I thought of it all, one must know that I am horribly critical, an awful theatre goer, and the fact that I know the performers and director, my thoughts must not be deemed as bias. Because I would tell you how it is.
It was totally and utterly beautiful. Beautiful.
It made me think about every single possible aspect of life. The love, the pain, the happiness, the sadness, the euphoria, the devastation. And, what’s important.
The set – simple, sensual, unfussy – was the perfect setting for what lay ahead. Six breathtakingly superb performers, performing a piece that is so brilliantly written meant I was hooked from the second it started. The lighting, and the setting was sublime. I loved the fact simple accents were used, because it meant each cast member could grasp the text and tell the story and it made them all the more relatable.
The use of film, laying out a relationship of a family, was an inspired and delicate way to set everything out. We knew from it, that we were going to be meeting a family who loved each other. It drew me in, and it made me gently weep. And how it made me feel at the end…. not everything you see is how it is. The things you know, they change, and they grow.
Interspersed throughout was the most wonderful physical theatre, to the most brilliantly chosen music that enveloped you. The dance elements fell into place like a comfortable shoe, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. And they made me brim with tears. The interconnections between the family was brought to life by this touch and made all the more powerful by the tenderness as it was steered by the cast. A glass of wine that passed from one to another at one point, like it floated. The brother and sister connection that playfully danced.
The coming together of all of them to support and move and just be there, in gentle, significant movements was just stunning. The scene at the end was quite simply one of the most powerful and beautifully executed pieces of theatre I have ever seen. I couldn’t get out of the theatre quick enough at the end so I could get to my car and howl. And I sobbed. I sobbed because of the story, but I sobbed because those six people, the director and the technical team had created something so beautiful, it was all I could do. When I got home, I couldn’t explain what I had just seen, I sobbed and I jumbled a sobbing garble to my husband about what I had just seen. I held my daughter so tight and just could not tell her deeply enough how much I loved her. The effect the whole production had on me was profound. And I really am not the only one. This play has deeply touched everyone who has seen it.
The four children were played by four exceptional actors, each of whom played their roles with such excellence, I found myself wondering why they aren’t all on the professional stage. I forgot I was at The Wharf and that they all have normal lives. They handled their characters with such care and maturity – real kudos to Freddie Underwood and her exemplary direction. I just knew that rehearsal process had been special, that what they had undertaken was a passion for the text and for their director. Because it showed.
Jessica Whiley as Rosie was enchanting. Her storytelling and perfect diction had me feeling and believing and imagining every single thing she was telling us. I felt the love she felt, I felt the passion she had had and I wanted to go home and share a bowl of cereal with the love of MY life. She captured the sense of travelling but wanting to be at home just perfectly. Her performance throughout was captivating. She broke my heart at the end of the play, her gentle voice and the beautiful but devastating words that came tumbling out of her mouth made me want to bawl. Her performance was outstanding.
Lou Cox, a stalwart of theatre, surpassed my expectations as Pip. Her characterisation of the role drew you in and you felt every feeling that she had. Her brilliant usage of inflections and the light and shade of her expertly executed use of the stage and the script meant that you knew who she was, her relationship with her mother and her siblings. Her relationship with every other character on stage was real and unmistakable. Lou’s handling of the character meant you knew exactly who Pip was, it was a striking and beautiful performance. I felt the pull she felt and that earth-shattering realisation that you need to follow your heart.
Fraser Normington as Ben – I loved him. His flexibility within the character was excellent. He caught the busyness of his life perfectly. He looked good, he sounded good and when he royally messed up, his manic panic was caught so brilliantly, I thought I was going to have a panic attack.
Karl Montgomery-Williams played the role of Mark magnificently. We knew something was wrong, he brought something to the stage when we first met him that we could just feel there wasn’t something right. As it unfolded, his storytelling was exquisite. His sensitivity to the subject, his relationship with Rosie and the response to his parents, was heartbreakingly brilliant. Again, you just felt every emotion, every word. His performance was remarkable.
Debby Wilkinson and Paul Butler as Fran and Bob. Well what can I say. I have seen these two perform and have been lucky enough to be on stage with both of them. They blew me away. Paul was bimbling and kind, and his parenting was just what every child needs; calm, gentle, principled. You yet again, felt who he was and felt every inch of his loyalty to his wife and the life they had made together and that he had always done what he thought was right. His aversion to swearing and how he reacted to it made you never want to swear again – yet his ‘F*CK YOU’ was one of the highlights for me. Because it came from Paul as Bob in such a way at the direction towards his son, the disappointment and pure and innate despair, was palpable. It hung in the air, it bounced around the theatre, we felt it. But his relationship with his wife was beautiful was what I loved the most – he broke my heart, his performance when he broke was simply heartbreakingly beautiful – his collapsing on his beloved roses made me want to howl, holding that in was near on impossible, but he captured absolute, all-encompassing pain, gut wrenchingly perfectly.
In response to his portrayal of Bob, Debby played the part of Fran with extraordinary professionalism and realism. She was quite truly excellent. Her connections with the words, the emotion, her relationship with each of her children was breathtakingly intense. She made me feel like I didn’t know who she was – I thought I had her, then she changed. A friend of mine hated her character, describing her as a bitch – I didn’t see her as a bitch, I just saw her and felt her as someone who just didn’t quite know how to ‘be’, her children were all different and the one who was the most like her was the one who she loathed.
So, was she self-loathing? Was that what the problem was? I just did not know, and that was down to how to she was directed, but also how she interpreted such a great and complex piece of writing that captured so many issues and feeling and life experiences. Her handling of the character, the script, the stunning, stunning movement that was incorporated and then her explosion at one of her sons that simply took my breath away, made me weep – her brilliance made me weep.
The production was better than clever. There is just so much in it to talk about. The characterisations of each character left me totally unable to explain what I had just seen. The lighting and music made me want to tap on the lighting box door and tell them how excellently they had handled it all (a real rarity), but the whole vision from the director that had spilled out onto the stage and in her performers, was exemplary. The pure emotion that had been poured into every single aspect was truly on a professional level. It did, quite frankly, blow me away. Even when I sensed there might have been a few line struggles, it just didn’t matter. It was slick, it was calm, and you felt them all working together to make the whole thing ‘happen’.
One thing I know to be true, was that it was, quite frankly, one of the best pieces of live theatre I have ever seen.
And not just because it is an incredible script, but because of who directed it, her tech team and who she had cast to be in it.
Now your Easter eggs are nothing but screwed up tin foil it’s time to look towards May, and what’s in store for us during this early summer month. Part one, let’s get the first fortnight over and done with.
Week 1: Wednesday 1st May – Sunday 5th
First day of the month is a Wednesday, so it’s the regular acoustic jam down the Southgate, Devizes, an open Mic at The New Inn, Semington or a live stream of the The Royal Opera: Faust at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon.
Thursday 2nd jabs at your funny bone, when the Moonrakers Comedy Night sets into the Cellar Bar, Devizes. Ed Pownall presents headliner Sol Bernstein, returning after twenty-five years of semi-retirement, only playing nursing homes. He’s performed all over the world at venues including The London Palladium, New York’s Carnegie Hall, The Paris Olympia, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, and Scunthorpe Baths, but it’s at night clubs where Sol really comes to life. With opener, Craig Deeley, a finalist in Jongleurs Last Laugh competition, and an additional special guest, tickets are £10, available form: The Bear Hotel, Devizes Books, The British Lion, The Southgate Inn, The Vaults, and on-line at “We Got Tickets.”
Along with a Charity Quiz Night for the British Heart Foundation at The Owl, Bromham, Swindon’s masters of downbeat, slack indie and wobbly pop, the Flour Babies bring an acoustic set to The Tuppenny with support by Callum McLean. Meanwhile, Chapel Arts in Bath has Will Lawton & Weasel Howlett (feat Buddy Fonzarelli) with support by our favourite, Tamsin Quin; Devizine is the #officialtamsinquinfanclub
The second ale, cider and sausage festival, Hopdog, at the Woodbridge, Pewsey, kicks off Friday 3rd. Three days of family mayhem for a £10 advanced ticket, £3 for 12+ and children under 12 free. You can camp, for £7, space is limited so please book early via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday sees Grizzly & The Grasshoppers. Saturday: Bob Bowles, Brian Stone, Jazz Wrann & The Ruby Welts and Sunday, firm Devizine favourites, the Larkin boys will be with Fly Yeti Fly and Kit Trigg.
Another festival in Blandford starts, the Teddy Rocks, in aid of Children’s Cancer, with a tribute-based line-up: details here: https://teddyrocks.co.uk/
Over in Devizes, the family club has Hariana, the UK’s number 1 tribute to Ariana Grande, and rumour has it, Vinyl Realm will host another fantastic Drum n Bass night at the Lamb, unconfirmed as of yet. Melksham Assembly Hall boasts Jethro’s The Count of Cornwall tour, while the Neeld have Queen II, and Bradford’s Wiltshire Music Centre hosts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. But if you like it raw, the Back-Wood Redeemers are at The Royal Oak, Bath.
Saturday night in Devizes is about rum and reggae at the Wyvern Club, where Michelle and Stuart Field’s Muck and Dunder rum bar hosts Swindon’s finest SN Dubstation while you dip into forty types of rum, ah-ha me hearties, tenner a ticket from https://www.muckanddunder.co.uk/ or failing that, dependable The Southgate has the great Sunset Service, free as always.
Out and about, you only need to get as far as Seend for beer, yep, it’s that time again for the Seend Beer Fest, their 19th, they know what they’re doing; gawd blimey, Train to Skaville will be there; love them. Certainly, reggae filled weekend though, with The Bob Marley Revival headlining Melksham Townfest at the football club, with Falling Fish, The Decibelles and whaaaa???? Train to Skaville will be there too??; must be an express train. The Ultimate Stone Roses are at the Assembly Hall, over in Bradford on Avon the NYJO Ambassadors and Mark Armstrong are at the Wiltshire Music Centre.
Swindon has “kids for a quid” at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, PinkMac at The Waiting Room and some groovy Disco Voodoo, with DJ Ashley Beedle at Baila Coffee & Vinyl.
Spring in the Park is a family fun-day in Warminster on Sunday 5th, or round up the weekend at The Southgate, with a band I’ve heard only good things about, The Astral Ponies. Swindon has the cool indie-sixties mod band, Six O’clock Circus at The Woodlands Edge, and Bath has Pigstock at The Pig and Fiddle; two stages, with Falling Fish, Pompadour, Cut Throat Francis, The White Lakes, Luna Lake, Jamie Watson, Eilis Tucker, and our own favourite, Mr George Wilding.
Week 2: Monday 6th May – Sunday 12th
Bank holiday innt? Those Devizes Lions have the May Day Fair in the Market Place, and Corn Exchange from 9am- 4pm. On similar lines as previous years, but in addition to trades and charities, a new class of stall is being introduced, for artisans who produce goods for direct sale to the public.
Sound Knowledge Marlborough are celebrating the holiday with a bang, with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes from midday in Club Thirty8, for a wristbands-only short set, after which they’ll be in the shop signing copies of new album ‘End of Suffering’.
Wednesday is acoustic jam at the Southgate. Thursday is regular Kinks tribute, Kast off Kinks at the Assembly Hall, Melksham, but if you think there’s too many broken hearts in the world, head for the Cheese & Grain, yeah, yeah, I know; Jason Donovan.
Sam Sweeney’s The Unfinished Violin at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon and Sharron Shannon Band & Seckou Keita at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Saturday 11th start the day browsing the Stert Car Boot Sale, it’s Devizes Cancer Research’s grandest event, supported by Grist, please come and help make a difference to this invaluable charity.
In all actual fact, it’s a very charitable day in Devizes; yep, we’ve our first Devizine Presents gig at the Cellar Bar. If you like Larkin, then it’s a double-whammy, because while Fin and Sam will be there, it’ll be possibly the only place to see them both, separately, Sam with a newly formed band and Fin with cousin Harvey as the Truzzy Boys. If that’s not enough for you, The Hound on the Mountain, the incredible Jordan Whatley will also be showing off his new songs and Gail Foster I will be in charge of intervals with her spellbinding and, possibly, rude poems. It’s a fiver or whatever you can donate, in aid of Devizes Opendoor; so please come down.
Opps, UPDATE ALERT! Please see the poster above for a change in schedule, unfortunately Sam had to pull out, but every clown has a silver lifeboat, hurrah for sixties mod-rock covers band, The Roughcut Rebels, who’ve stepped in to save the day and will be sure to add an extra dimension to the festivities.
If my thing ain’t your thing, I might just forgive you, especially if you try the Devizes Town Band’s concert, “Greatest Love Themes,” which will be raising funds for Alzheimer’s Support at 7:30pm, The Corn Exchange. In a change from the traditional black, band members will be wearing some other colours to make the concert more dementia friendly. I can identify with this; my nan suffered this terrible ailment.
Some people living with dementia see a black mat or flooring as a bottomless black hole, which is understandably very scary. They can also see people wearing black as floating heads, because they cannot identify black clothes.
Babs Harris, CEO of Alzheimer’s Support said: “People’s perceptions can change when they have dementia and it is fascinating to hear from some of them how they now see colours. It is so heartening that Devizes Town Band have taken this on board for their concert and taken this extra step to make their performance truly inclusive and dementia-friendly. It promises to be a wonderful evening of music and the bright colours will only add to the celebratory atmosphere.” Tickets are £7.50 and you can get them from Devizes Books, or online via www.devizestownband.com
Alternatively, Hip Route are live at The Southgate, and the brilliant Indecision at The Owl, Bromham.
In Marlborough The Skandals are at The Lamb and Room 101 are at The Bear. The Blue Rose Band at The Pilot, Melksham. London Mozart Players at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon, Operation 77 at The Woodlands Edge, Swindon. Martin Kemp’s Back to the 80’s at Cheese & Grain, Frome; take your own Rubix Cube.
For want a peaceful Sunday on the 12th the Marlborough and District Lions Club welcomes you to drive through the glorious bluebells at Westwoods, enjoy the Bluebells and help support your local Lions Club. This repeats again next Sunday.
Time travelling magicians Morgan & West present a jaw dropping, heart stopping, brain busting, opinion adjusting, death defying, mind frying, spirit lifting, paradigm shifting, outlook changing, furniture rearranging magic extravaganza at the Neeld in Chippenham Sunday afternoon, promising to be fun for ages 5 to 105.
That’s about it for the first two weeks of May, if you think it’s jam-packed you need to see the finale part of May’s what’s on article, which I’m working on now, okay – cut me some slack! But before I go, remember to check devizine.com regularly, as it’s updated, like, nearly every day, and you might well miss something.
Also, please shed my workload by letting me know about your event, or news stories; there’s only so much scrolling and clicking I can do. You can email your info to email@example.com Tweet, message the Facebook page, or I now have a Facebook group called The Devizine Communications Group, to make it super easy to make me aware of your events and gigs and news and stuff, so use it, don’t abuse it, love it and get some free publicity for your efforts.
Most of all though, don’t whinge at me for omitting something if you haven’t actually told me about it, sounds bleeding obvious I know but you’d be surprised by that amount of people who do!
Hey, hey, hey; I have actually followed this article up, click the image to go to the rest of the month’s preview!
Under the circumstances perhaps the most thought-provoking character in the musical Made in Dagenham is wife of Ford Dagenham’s boss, Lisa Hopkins; through her own reservations about her plush lifestyle, the career-aspiring housewife convinces the female factory worker’s spokesperson, Rita O’Grady, that the campaign is one of sexual equality rather than a class struggle. When while the real Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 did indeed trigger the passing of the Equal Pay act, the issue is quite clearly rooted in worker’s liberty too.
So, I bite the bullet and go against my principals, arriving at the prestigious independent school, Dauntsey’s, to watch The Devizes Musical Theatre’s production of Made in Dagenham on their opening night, yesterday. A private school who brazenly parades its charity status, aids a local primary school, does a few sports coaching sessions at others and then sails around the world on its private yacht. Yet the irony of a play with the theme of working-class struggle staged in this tax-avoiding loophole abiding school, which Theresa May pledged against in her 2017 Conservative manifesto, but soon after quietly dropped, seemed to soar clear over the heads of the audience.
And hey, who’d flunked it, the theatre there is rather luxurious in comparison to a comprehensive school hall. It served its purpose for this, rather splendidly arranged musical, which though received critical response, ending its run at the West End promptly, I enjoyed. Intrigue drew me to the performance, how one can produce a musical from this principled, true story based social-message film of the same name. That and the fact my upbringing lies in Essex, with roots from the East End, to the point of jaded memories of an aunt chasing me with a spoon of wobbling jellied eels.
Yet it seems any movie is game for a musical adaption these days and for all that’s worth Made in Dagenham stages some apt, witty and intelligently written songs for the pivotal cast. The musical introduced some characters not in the film, of which the audacious bigot, cowboy Ford director was the most excruciatingly farcical, waving an electric guitar around like Peter Capaldi’s Dr Who car crash moment.
Though the script’s characters and content felt patchy at times, I loved the comical depiction of Harold Wilson, played brilliantly by Matthew Dauncey. It was almost pantomime-esque against the stern portrayal of Barbara Castle, acted equally radiantly by Laura Deacon. Yet the fourth wall remained bricked at all times. The moral as serious as the trade union’s dissolvement.
Giving credit for its humorous components, my favourite by far was Rachel Ibbetson’s representation of factory worker clown, Claire; I guess it had to devote somewhat to the Essex girl stereotype. But mostly it remains ethically witty, rather than lambast a weak county pigeonhole. Though I felt the acting ability was varied, the aforementioned, plus lead roles of Lucy Burgess, Chrissie Higgs as Connie and Jon Paget were all fantastic in their acting and singing solos. A further credit must go to the children, Ivan Barter and Emily Noad, for their thoroughly convincing despair when the chips were down.
I did enter with intensions to jokily knock attempts at the Essex accent, and indeed many actors did purvey more West London pronunciation, yet trivial elements aside, I came out satisfied at a job well done. Particularly poignant was the orchestra, who played marvellously, if not overpowering on-stage dialogue at times. To nit-pick further, the production could have been tighter. The lighting felt limited, microphone moments of lapse, and severe feedback at times, we must overlook; this was presented as amateur dramatics at its best, and the motivation and love of the arts clearly shone through, to demonstrate a dedicated and worthy production. Yeah, box ticked my love, I’m off shopping in Chigwell, rightly portrayed as the San Francisco of Essex!
Made in Dagenham only runs at until Saturday, so I’d advise you drop into Devizes Books and hope they’ve still got tickets. Shows start at 7:30 with a 2:30pm Saturday matinee.
Birds singing, the blossom on the trees, and that first cut of the lawn (groan!) Spring is here and it’s time to venture out and about, without snood and snowshoes. This summer sees some great events and gigs, but what’s on offer this early? Let’s take a look at what’s to be doing this April.
It’s always worthwhile heading to the Southgate in Devizes on a Wednesday if you like acoustic music, you’ll discover regular acoustic jam sessions, where any of our great local musicians may just turn up and improv.
But this Wednesday 3rd, there’s also open mic at New Inn Semington, or the Lamb in Devizes hold their fourth vinyl listening night with Pete from Vinyl Realm. From 7:30-9:30pm you can join this social gathering with a log fire and nibbles. Take your favourite album along to play and natter about all-things music with other vinyl lovers. It’s free, nibbles too, and they’ve a raffle.
For a fiver a pop, the weekend kicks off on Friday with Sheer Music back down the Cellar Bar for the second in a series dubbed Subterranean. Young indie band Falling Fish and Devizine favourites Larkin support Clock Radio. Meanwhile there’s raw roots blues with the king of cigar box guitar, Howlin Matt down the Southgate. But if you want to get dancing, it’s good to hear house music returns to town, it’s Funky Sensation’s launch at the Exchange with DJ’s George G-Force, Nina LoVe and Stach; preview here.
It’s also good to see People Like Us returning to their former place of residency, The Waterfront in Pewsey, while George Michael fans need to head for the Assembly Rooms in Melksham for Fast Love and lovers of a golden era of music from the 1920s and 1930s need check out the Pasadena Roof Orchestra at the Neeld, Chippenham.
But most eyes focus on Swindon, ska fans in particular, with The Erin Bradwell Collective at the Castle and Ska-Bucks at the Vic, but also, their Fringe Festival begins. Running from Friday 5th to Sunday 14th, there’s a truckload of variety across Swindon’s finest venues, from the Groovy Pig Festival, and our friends at The Ocelot with their regularly hosted comedy nights at The Vic, to bizarre theatrical performances at the Artsite, The Olive Tree Café, and nerdy night of action figure archive show, After Dusk: An Improvised Twilight Zone at The Incredible Comic Shop. Check out the website, too much to list here!
Saturday night is owned by Devizes, with the Billy Walton Band at the ever-popular Long Street Blues Club, The Duskers live at The Southgate and of course, The Full Tone Orchestra are at St Johns being Big, Bold & Russian. That said, I’m cannot wait for I’ll be at Asa Murphy’s Buddy Holly Lives show at the Corn Exchange, in honour of Bruce Hopkins, oh boy, this’ll be a knockout; preview. (Apologies, terrible pun, could’ve at least pre-warned you!)
But rock n rollers are spoiled for choice Saturday as Melksham Rock n Roll Club brings us The Hurricanes at the Spencer Sports & Social Club from 7pm. while Local Heroes Inc at The Jenny Wren in Calne, and Port Erin at The Lamb, Marlborough also come recommended, rum n reggae fans need to head for Wotton Bassett, where Razah-I-Fi and Knati P are blasting some sound system culture at the Cross Keys.
Sunday is Devizes Half Marathon and Fun Run, I’m certain “fun-run” is an oxymoron, but c’est la vie! Be Well, a Holistic Wellbeing & Spiritual Event is at Corn Exchange, but I’d consider PSG Choirs for Alzheimer’s Support @ The Neeld, Chippenham.
April’s Second week sees the highly-anticipated production of Made in Dagenham by The Devizes Musical Theatre at Daunstey’s. Running from Wednesday 10th to 13th, this uplifting British musical comedy about friendship, love and the importance of fighting for what is right is inspired by a true story and based on the hit movie, Made in Dagenham. Book a Ticket here.
Meanwhile Marlborough’s Sound Knowledge celebrates Record Store Day. This year’s list is available online: https://recordstoreday.co.uk/releases/rsd-2019/ They’ll be open from 8am with hundreds of titles from the list. Get in touch with Sound Knowledge and let them know what you’ll be hoping to pick up on the day, they cannot reserve anything, but it insures correct ordering. The fun continues on Sunday, with an amazing live music roster from midday, including The Leisure Society, LION, Tom Speight, Little Geneva, and Wilding. It’s free entry, and has a Bar and barbeque.
Melksham’s newest pub, The Hiding Place hosts song-writing and touring legend, Henry Priestman, a founder member of punk band Yachts in the 70s, and The Christians in the 80s. This is at The Rachel Fowler Centre in Melksham, the venue is so beautiful and yet few people even know it’s there. £10 per ticket, can be bought at the bar in The Hiding Place or over the phone. Eighties soft metal fans meanwhile could take in Bon Jovi Forever at the Assembly Hall.
If you’d rather not thrust your bad habits at your children, grab a £10 ticket to the Neeld in Chippenham on Sunday, when it’s Pongo’s birthday party! A colourful farmyard is the setting for these loveable puppet characters; Pongo’s Party is a family show particularly suitable for 2 – 7-year olds, and includes a special guest appearance by the Easter Bunny!
If that all seems a tad too much, adults could try cross-border folk multi-instrumentalists and festival favourites, The Shee at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. An exceptional all-female band boasting powerful and emotional vocal performances and instrumental prowess.
The third week of April sees another Devizes Books Presents event on Wednesday 17th. The theme is Shopping! Women are supposed to love it, men to hate it. Both have written about it. Hear India Knight on its joys, G.K Chesterton on how much he hates grocers, and Sophie Hannah on what she got up to in bookshops. Much more, including Dalgit Nagra, Bill Bryson, Fanny Burney, Evelyn Waugh, Radcliffe Hall plus a guest appearance by a local poet, (that our man, Andy?) 7 for 7.30 Tickets £6 to include a drink and nibbles. Over in Swindon, the Wyvern have a Celebration of eighties soul idol, Luther Vandross.
Ska fans point your boots and braces in the direction of Swindon, where the Erin Bardwell Collective play to their home fans at Beehive before heading for the London Ska Festival. That or, Vic Fest 2019 at, The Vic, where else?! Mod and scooterist fun continues on Friday when the Exit 17 Scooter Club do an Easter egg run, with local sixties garage band, Absolute Beginners at the Consti Club afterwards.
In Devizes town Honeytrap return To the Southgate, and Vinyl Realm Presents their second drum & bass come house bash at The Fold in the Lamb, with Harry B (Gyro Records) James Threlfall (Mini Rig) and Rappo (b2b/Retrospect.) These nights are quite exclusive, with 50 fiver tickets for each event, 30 spaces on door, but fear not, for Saturday they’re doing it again with a house/trance night with DJ’s Rappo, Morgosis and Shaun Ashley of Rapture recordings.
You haven’t got to go raving though, people of Devizes; Sam and Finley are back together as Larkin Live at the Southgate, or Katy Ellis is at the Devizes Family Club in the Cavalier donning two tributes, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
Easter Sunday book your kid into the Hillworth Park Easter Egg Hunt quick, as it’s limited, and at £3 at pop, going to be popular. Adults hide away in the Three Crowns with People Like Us. If contemporary reggae is your thing, try Reggae Wiltshire’s Easter Sunday Reggae night at The Skybar Melksham Football Club; Reggae, RNB, Soul & Ragga mixed by Reggae Wiltshire’s exclusive DJ Mister M.
All is rather quiet while we digest our chocolate eggs or else spew them up on mum’s fluffy white stair-carpet. Friday 26th April then, Devizes has King Louie at The Southgate, while The Cavalier have Abba tribute, Abba’s Angels, and its Open Night at the Pump in Trowbridge.
Before you’ll know what’s what it’ll be May, with the Devizes Lion’s May Fair, Hopdog Fest at the Woodbridge, Urchfont Scarecrow Festival, Born to Rum at the Wyvern Club Devizes, The Seend Beer Festival with Train to Skaville, Melksham TownFest, All Roads Lead to Frome at Cheese & Grain, Chippenham Soap Box Derby, Shindig Festival, Chippenham Folk Festival, Lechlade Festival, OwlFest, and loads more from the Coopers Hill Cheese Roll to Jason Donovan, yes, Jason Donovan at the Cheese & Grain, and when you’re done with that, it’s Devizes Arts Festival. Keep one step ahead with Devizine, continue to scroll the home page where events are added, like, nearly all the time!
Ever since Little Shop of Horrors, the things I know to be true about The Wharf Theatre are that, it’s a lovely, unpretentious theatre Devizes should be proud of, and it’s dedicated to bringing quality shows to our town.
Written by Andrew Bovell and directed by Freddie Underwood then, The Things I Know to Be True is their latest offering. It runs from Monday 22nd to Saturday 27 April, curtain at 7:30pm, and despite being a relatively new piece, its first UK production in 2016, it is already on the GCSE syllabus.
Claiming to be an inspirational compliment of text and movement, Things I Know to be True is as beautifully touching as it is funny, a portrait of marriage and family as seen through the eyes of four siblings, Pip, Mark, Ben and Rosie, all of whom have their own struggles and secrets.
Bob and Fran Price have worked hard to give their family all of the opportunities they never had and now, with their children ready to fly the nest, it should be their time, a time to sit back and smell the roses. But a change of season brings some shattering truths as reality is tested and lives are redefined.
If there’s a stigma among the typical denizen surrounding the Devizes Arts Festival that it’s all rather pompous and geared toward the elder generation, all walks and organ recitals, and that sounds like you, then I bid you look closer at this year’s newly announced line-up.
Devizes Arts Festival has pulled a colossal rabbit out their hats for this June’s festivities; really, I don’t know where to begin. Yes, some of it conforms to the customary Arts Festival bookings, such as an audience with international journalist and veteran reporter John Simpson (Corn Exchange. Friday 31st May) and an organ recital by the Sub-Organist at Durham Cathedral, Francesca Massey (1st June St Johns.) There’s even a two-hour festival walk; Historic Devizes (2nd June. Devizes Town Centre,) guided by experts from the Wiltshire County Archaeology team, and a Civil War Battlefield walk at Roundway Down on 9th June.
Now, don’t get me wrong, while there’s no bad about any such events, and chatting with organiser Phillipa Morgan, who is keen to point out, “we had fifteen sold-out events last year,” there’s many-a darn good reason to cast off this erroneous label.
I assure, many acts are set to blow some interest in the direction of those who’d not considered the Arts Festival before. Ska, for instance, (you know me, fancy picking on this one first!) with Skamouth favourites, Coventry’s (the home of Two-Tone) Barb’d Wire (1st June Corn Exchange) who boast legendary and original rude boy himself, Trevor Evans, combined with local songwriter/singer Lloyd Mcgrath. This is certain to raise a few eyebrows; perfect for the 40th anniversary of Two-Tone.
You can zip your soul boots too, for seventies pioneers in funk, The Real Thing are confirmed, (8th June. Corn Exchange.) Known for legendary hits “You to Me Are Everything” and “Can’t Get by Without You,” Devizes is sure to feel the force!
Wiltshire’s own Nick Harper is at The Exchange, 13th June, contemporary Congolese and Cuban music 15th June at the Corn Exchange with Grupo Lokito, and experimental prog-rock with CIRCU5 (16th June. Cellar Bar.)
The brilliant radio, television and stage comedian Ed Byrne (12th June. Corn Exchange) was the other to immediately catch my eye. Joined by special guests, David Haddingham and Sindhu Vee, this one promises to “have you rolling in the aisles.” With sold-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe, and the West End, it reminded me of a conversation I had with some organisers last year, about how they travel to Edinburgh to source acts for the Arts Festival. This dedication has paid off, it seems, and we’re set for an explosively good year.
I asked Phillipa if this stigma was something the committee addressed, as it certainly is a line-up of variety. “Classical music is still there but we’ve tried to broaden the appeal. I think we’ve just moved in that direction as a result of an awareness that the requirement is changing and we’re trying to be more inclusive.”
So, what else is up for grabs this year? Children’s author Clive Mantle will be entertaining youngsters with illustrated readings from his time-travelling, Himalayan adventure and talking about his writing and his own travels in Nepal (1st June. Devizes Town Hall 2:30pm.) Although familiar as an actor to audiences of Holby, Vicar of Dibley and Game of Thrones, Clive Mantle is also now a successful children’s author: his first book “The Treasure at the Top of the World” was short-listed for the People’s Book Award and a second book in the series is due out in June. This is suitable for eight-year-olds and above.
Also, for young-uns, Blue Peter Award winning author and performer, Gareth P Jones presents Aliens in Devizes! (8th June. Town Hall) Pet Defenders, a secret organisation of dogs, cats, rabbits and rodents dedicated to keeping the Earth safe from alien invasion. Suitable ages from six to nine, but sounds like fun to me!
The best jazz violinist in the country, Christian Garrick and John Etheridge, one of the most stunningly versatile guitarists, presents Strings on Fire (3rd June. The Exchange.) Meanwhile, two siblings that make up the exceptional violin and viola duo, String Sisters, Angharad and Lowri Thomas String Sisters are at St. Andrews Church on the 5th June. Multiple award-winning musicians, who’ve played with Alfie Boe, Michael Ball, Paloma Faith, Marc Almond, Boy George and Robbie Williams.
2nd June at The Bear Hotel Ballroom, there’s a quirky, funny and poignant award-winning solo show about Nick Drake; a celebration of music, photography, life, coincidences and the legacy of one of the most influential singers/song-writers of the last fifty years.
Competitive improv as you’ve never seen it, The Shakespeare Smackdown (4th June. The Exchange,) is from the creators of Olivier Award-winning “Showstopper! The Improvised Musical.” Britain’s favourite celebrity organic gardener and Gardeners’ Question Time star panellist, Bob Flowerdew has An Audience with on the 5th June at Devizes Town Hall.
From Atila singing the Nat King Cole Story (6th June. Town Hall) to the dark comic and eclectic music of Moscow Drug Club (7th June Corn Exchange) and from An Audience with grand dame of English literature, Fay Weldon (8th June. Bear Hotel) to Elspeth Beard, the first British woman to motorcycle around the world (8th June. Bear Hotel) no one can deny the quality and variety is extraordinary this year. Talks on Sci-Fi influences on evolutionary linguistics, a homage of renditions of Eric and Ernie, author Clare Mulley’s on her third book, “The Women Who Flew for Hitler”, open mic poetry session with Josephine Corcoran, in fact there’s too much here to list in one article, my wordcount exploding and I fear you’ll be bedazzled by it all.
So why don’t we regroup tomorrow, when we’ll highlight, in particular, the free fringe events? Phillipa, in charge of the fringe events, notes surprisingly, that although “the fringe events are subsided, for some reason they don’t seem to attract that many people, compared with ticketed recent events such as Rick Wakeman at £45, which sold out.” I think this is down to the aforementioned stigma, and here at Devizine I’m dedicated to prove it wrong. So, same time tomorrow then?
Aye, heareth this, mine own cater-cousins, Shakey is backeth at the Wharf Theatre in Marcheth; timeth to beest did enlighten and amus’d.
Liz Sharman, who directed the incredibly successful, “A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Forum” last year, is taking the helm again for William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It;” it promises to be a strong show.
Showing from Monday 11th to Saturday 16th March at 7.30pm, this 1599 pastoral comedy has remained an audience favourite for over four hundred years.
Duke Senior has been usurped by his younger brother Duke Frederick and is now exiled from the controlling confines of court. His daughter Rosalind and her cousin Celia have also run away and arrive in the forest with Rosalind now dressed as a young man in order to avoid detection. Others taking refuge amongst the country folk of the Forest of Arden include Rosalind’s admirer Orlando, the court fool, Touchstone and melancholy traveller, Jaques, who gives many of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches including “All the world’s a stage”, “Too much of a good thing” and “A fool! A fool! I met a fool in the forest!”
As with all good comedies much confusion ensues amongst the wooing as society’s rules are overthrown. As You Like It remains an exuberant theatrical journey featuring several songs, a wrestling match, a joyful quadruple wedding and no funeral!
Big gulp of wine Mums, it’s half term next week. Okay, that’s quite enough, don’t panic. From daffodil picking, cooking and first aid, to football, driving tanks and having a go at being a DJ, here’s some things to keep little soldiers and princesses of all ages at bay, and smiling!
Sure thing is a movie; “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” is at the Palace Cinema, from today until Thursday 21st. “The Lego Movie 2” is a must, from Friday 15th also until Thursday 21st.
From Thursday 14th through to Friday 22nd there’s a funfair at The County Ground in Swindon, from 2pm. Scream if you want me to go faster, or you’re running low on wine.
There will be the usual free swimming at the Leisure Centres, but check ahead, as some timetables have changed.
You could take them for a trip down the Kennet & Avon, The Admiral is free on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th, find it at the Caen Hill Café, below the bridge at lock 44, at 11am. There will be trial sheets to explore the Jubilee Woods, and, back on board there will be a history of the canal and its restoration.
Starting Saturday 16th, you can pick your own daffodils at Woodborough’s Whitehall Garden Centre, available daily until 31st March. £4.99 per bag. Both centres, at Woodbrough and Lacock, have a Gardening Nature Trail until Thursday 21st. Claim a lollipop at customer services for every completed entry.
Saturday (16th) The Devizes Family Club have at Children’s Disco at the Conservative Club. 6:30-8pm, all are welcome but only above 9 years should be left. There’s an adult creche for you, with bar! £3 on the door, lucky dip 50p, tbc face painting and optional princess and superhero fancy dress. Proceeds are going to Rowde Academy.
Starting Sunday and running through the week, The Wyvern Theatre in Swindon has a roadshow at The Brunel Centre, inviting children to join in at The Crossing, to make dinosaurs or dragons to celebrate the arrival of Dinosaur World Live and Julia Donaldson’s Zog in April.
In Melksham there’s activities all week long at Young Melksham’s The Canberra Club. These clubs are for all young people in Year 5 and above (aged 8 to 16) and will run from 2pm till 5pm Monday to Friday, with entry costing £2.50 per session or a week-long pass for just £10. There will be a plenty of activities on offer including pool, table tennis, table football, arts and crafts, karaoke, cooking and baking, games and sports and much more. There are also computers and consoles available for use and a chill out room where you can watch tv or a film together.
The Canberra Centre is amazing building with lots of space to run around and have fun and play games with your friends. There is also an outside courtyard for football, basketball and just burning off some energy! A variety of hot and cold food and snacks will be available to purchase as well as free squash.
How about teaching your nipper some line dancing on Monday? All ages and abilities welcome at The Town Hall, Devizes. Early Bird Session: 6.30-7.30pm £5 Beginners: 7-8pm £5. Improvers 7.30-9.30pm £6.
For footballers ages three to six, Devizes Town Youth has free coaching in their Little Kickers sessions from 9.30am to 11am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Football Club. Kid receive a free t-shirt and football. To sign your child up contact Mr Sheridan on 07860232052 or Raymond King on 07917787903 or Jon Wozencraft on 07767851332
Tuesday and Wednesday with two sessions per day: 11.00am – 12.30pm & 1.30pm – 3.00pm, there’s Wildlife in Wiltshire at The Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. Art and Craft activities linked to their Natural History Exhibition. You can make animal masks, create animal models and pictures. These sessions are very popular, so booking is essential. It’s suitable for age 11 and under. Age 8 and under to be accompanied. £5 per child. Accompanying adults free.
Or maybe try your hand at being a DJ? Trowbridge’s Community Area Future has a Free Half Term DJ Workshop at Studley Green People’s Place on Tuesday 19th. DJ Nina LoVe will show you how to mix the Old Skool way, using vinyl records! There will be a few different types of music available – House, UK Garage or Drum and Bass. Come and check it out, book yourself some time on the decks or get on the microphone! For ages 13-18. Please feel free to drop in or call to book a place on firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a go at a soldier-led assault course, plus Tank-themed fun family activities, at the REME Museum, Lyneham. Make your own tank with parachute and see if your engineering skills are up to scratch by dropping your tank “into battle” in one piece. On the artistic side, you can design and colour-in tanks. There’re model tanks which you can drive on a special course. Drop in from 11 am to 3 pm, any day from Tuesday until Friday. Special soldier run kid’s assault course will be running, plus fun tank-based kids trails, activities and craft in the museum. All children to be accompanied by an adult. All activities are included in the admission fee. Assault Course suitable for 5 – 12-year olds. The Museum is open from 10 am to 4.30 pm (last entry at 3.30 pm), some activities run from 11 am to 3 pm. Museum admission required to take part in activities. No pre-booking required for this activity, just turn up and enjoy.
Wednesday 20th is time to get fit in Hillworth Park, free event, in association with Boot Camp UK, it’s going to be all Sprint, Slide, Shake, Scamper, Scurry, Swing and Stomp!
For arts and crafts, Fired Thoughts at the Old Potato Yard, Devizes, has Half Term Lino Workshops, from Wednesday to Friday. A two-hour workshop to design, cut and print using Lino and inks. All ages and abilities welcome. All materials included, but please book: Tel:01380 840666 email: email@example.com
At the Court Street Gallery in Trowbridge, there’s a Children’s Silk Sun Catchers Workshop on Wednesday at 10am. £15 per person including materials. To learn more and book, visit: www.nicoladaviscrafts.co.uk/workshops.html
How about some first aid training for your children? Louise Worsley, a qualified trainer is at Marlborough Rugby Club on Thursday, 21st, 09:30 – 15:30 with an essential First Aid Training for Children. Sessions are tailored to age groups and are full of practical to make them fun and memorable: 9:30-11am – Mini Life-Savers course for 5-8-year olds – £18 (£15 for a sibling.) 11:30am-1pm – Mini Life-Savers course for 8-12-year olds – £18 (£15 for a sibling) and 1:30-3:30pm – Teen-Aiders course for 12-16-year olds – £24 (£20 for a sibling)
Thursday is the opening night for MACS Theatre School’s “The Addams Family” at Devizes School. It runs until Sunday. Tickets at Devizes Books or online here. Doors open at 6:30pm for a curtain up at 7:30. There’s also a mini Macs matinee performance on Saturday at 2:30pm.
From Thursday until Saturday 23rd The Seend Village Pantomime presents “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.” It takes place at Seend Community Centre, it’s the Fawlty Players 40th Anniversary, and there’s three of the cast were in the first Snow White in 1981! Tickets at the Post Office and Community Centre.
At Bradford on Avon’s St Margaret’s Hall, two of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes will be performed by local theatre group, the multi award-winning Bradfordians Dramatic Society. A take on Dahl’s retelling of the classic fairy tales, Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk. Following their success with The Twits last year, the group will bring Dahl’s honest, often vicious wit and humour to the stage in this production. Show times: Thursday 21st February – 6.30PM, Friday 22nd February – 6.30PM, Saturday 23rd February – 11AM, Saturday 23rd February – 2.30PM, Sunday 24th February – 2.30PM. Head to the Bradfordian’s website to see the full cast and more information here: http://www.thebradfordians.com/
Learn some street dance with a taster class at Charlotte’s School of Dance, Bath Rd Business Centre, Devizes, at 7:30pm on Friday with Jacinta Childs. To book this £5 session text: 07903812364.
Aspiring chefs, Saturday 23rd is for you; Margaret Bryant hosts Middle Eastern at Vaughan’s Kitchen Cookery School, Devizes. Spicy (but not hot) Falafels; Hummus; Baklava. Designed to give your youngster a firm foundation that will provide them with the techniques and knowledge they need to grow into competent and confident cook, it is also lots of FUN and they will bring home the results of the session to share with the family.
Zara is therapist to a sixteen year old refugee, trying to come to terms with the brutal horrors of war. Her own adopted daughter of the same age is dealing with her ‘inner’ conflict. As the characters of the two girls, Layee and Thea, emerge, they tell not only their own stories but each other’s, to a world which they often feel doesn’t listen or understand.
Showing the deep anguish, feelings of loss of identity and abandonment which can link both adoption and asylum, it’s the intriguing plot of Broken Wing, the world premier play of Devizes author Annie L Cooper. Annie was prompted to write it after her personal experiences as a therapist working in Bosnia with the victims of concentration camps, and having witnessed the complex issues involved in adoption. It’s being staged by director Lewis Cowen at The Wharf Theatre in Devizes for Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd June.
Not set in any specific time or place, because sadly these issues still occur in all corners of the world, it’s a powerful production with strong language and disturbing themes, hence its over sixteen guideline.
What an inspiring move for our local theatre, adapting a local author’s work and staging an exclusive play which hopefully will be taken up elsewhere.
Catch Broken Wing at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes: Tuesday 19th – Saturday 23rd June 2018 @ 7.30pm Tickets £12/£10; concessions can be purchased from the website: wharftheatre.co.uk or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or by ringing 03336 663 366 For further information contact Karen Ellis firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Magorian’s delightful novel about the experiences of young evacuee has been through a number of incarnations, most notably the TV film starring John Thaw. However David Wood’s stage version is enjoying great success, and directed by Kim Pearce, it’s the latest performance at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes.
Running from Friday 9th to Saturday 17th March 2018, 7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday 10th March, this sounds like a heart-warming prose (please note: there are no performances on Sunday11th and Monday 12th March.)
Willie Beech is a boy from the slums of south east London who finds himself unloved and unwanted when he is evacuated to the countryside as Britain finds itself on the brink of World War II. Widower Tom Oakley takes the shy young lad under his wing. The aging recluses’ stony heart is gradually softened and the experience poignantly changes both, in this heart-warming tale.
Tickets £12/£10 concessions can be purchased from: The Devizes Community Hub and Library, Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. The website Wharftheatre.co.uk. Or by ringing 03336 663 366.
To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up the new Spring Summer brochure which is now available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.
It’s been about a year since the editor of Index:Wiltshire sent me to Swindon for the press screening of a new, homemade film. Slightly anxious at the prospect of being among “real” journalists, thought I was in over my head. Instead, I was welcomed by a family atmosphere, with more cakes than journalists (turned out it was the producer’s birthday too.)
Immediately I threw off those fears, this isn’t a pretentious Hollywood charade, this is Swindon for crying out loud; only provoking a new concern, how good could a locally made movie really be, would I need to humour wild Swindonian thespians?
Turned out I was pleasantly surprised, the film, Follow the Crows, was superb, but my bag of nerves not through yet. An unidentified apocalyptic event threw an oddball bunch of survivors into a baron wilderness, each with their own vicious agenda; the plot of the film unnerving when surreally, you’re sitting amidst the actors playing these fruitcakes.
At the movie’s close I stumbled up in awe, cake crumbs scattered the floor; this was an awesome film and I felt honoured, as if I was initiated into a secret gang with this exclusive preview. But meeting the actors and one actress, Danielle Faircloth, who I’d just seen at daggers with each other on the screen, I had to acknowledge it was just an act; that’s what these guys do, and very realistically too. This exceptionally talented bunch weren’t about to carve me up over a tin of spam. No, we just shook hands and chatted amicably.
I have maximum respect for those who can so convincingly act, my personal performing career peaked when my Shakin’ Stevens impression gained me first place at the Cub Scout pack holiday talent show, the rest has been downhill since (I probably didn’t need to mention that.)
The Producer of Follow the Crows, Marcus Starr, explained a lot more work was needed to perfect the sound, and as I write this I’m pleased to announce the team claim a release date is imminent. More on this news as and when, but today I wanted to make a point, and introduce Swindon’s cosy, Shoebox Theatre.
The Shoebox Theatre is a space in Theatre Square for talented performers, writers, musicians and directors to develop, train, and showcase their work, in hope of bringing something different and exciting to audiences of Swindon. And with the talents of Danielle heading a mature themed horror play, by resident theatre company, the Wrong Shoes, called The Unbinding, I’m rest assured this will be a supreme Halloween indulgence.
With a local component, The Unbinding devised from historical accounts of witches from Wiltshire; the play explores mob-mentality and our insatiable need to punish those who are different. Accused of witchcraft, four women are locked together, to await their sentence in the shadows. Scared and hungry they don’t know who they can trust, or who will survive.
It promises to be an intense performance, featuring stark realism, horror, physical theatre, strobe lights, and containing scenes of a sexual nature, with violence, and strong language some viewers may find disturbing; has to be scarier than wandering the streets collecting Haribo.
Book your tickets for The Unbinding, opening on Halloween (31st Oct) and running until 4th November at the Shoebox Theatre via www.theunbinding.co.uk
The only thing not scary is the price; tickets at a tenner. Plus, you’ll be supporting the Wrong Shoes at the Shoebox Theatre, who, as well as creating theatre, the registered charity since 2015, also provides educational opportunities for people in Swindon and the surrounding areas to engage in original, contemporary theatre, both as performance makers and as audiences.
Look out for ingeniously titled, Much Ado About Puffin too, a performance for the children. Using skilful puppetry, beautiful music, and good old fashioned storytelling, Much Ado About Puffin is about old habits, new friendships and stepping out into the unknown, and runs this Saturday, 14th October.