Saturday April 1st, between 10am and 2pm The Wharf Theatre in Devizes are holding their second ever open day, it’s free and open to all. Whether you’ve been in the theatre before, or not, everyone is welcome to come and see what goes on at the Theatre and what goes into putting on a show…..
There will be a collection of costumes, and guided theatre tours – even to darkest depths of the Wharf visitors don’t usually see, like the tech box and green room.
An entirely free event which will be offering refreshments. If you’re interested in joining the theatre groups, either on the stage or behind the scenes, people will be on hand to chat about the various roles, but even if you fancy popping in for a cuppa and a look around, they’re welcome.
Publicity director Karen said, “following the lockdowns, when it looked for a while that we might not survive, we were saved with the help of the lovely local people who donated to our Just Giving Page, we would like to think that we are the little theatre who the town took to its heart and helped to save.”
Next show at The Wharf is hidden Shakespearean gem, Measure for Measure, running from March 27th to the open day on April 1st. See our preview here.
Following her recent successful production of As You Like It, at Devizes’ Wharf Theatre, Liz Sharman returns with another Shakespeare masterpiece, Measure for Measure.
Often cited as one of Shakey’s Problem Plays, characterised by complex and ambiguous tones, pugnaciously shifting between straightforward comic material and dark, psychological drama, Measure for Measure is a predecessor to tragicomedy.
Written between 1603-4 Measure for Measure is set in a Vienna which has seen vice run riot. Beset with brothels and loose morals the city has also lost its respected leader. Angelo, left temporarily in power, attempts to restore order by reinstating long-neglected laws against immorality. However, when a novice nun, Isabella, comes to plead for her brother’s life, he proves himself to be both hypocritical and corrupt when he attempts to strike an intolerable bargain.
Measure For Measure is a hidden Shakespearean gem that has enjoyed a popular revival in recent years thanks to its fresh relevance to the social movement against sexual abuse and harassment, #MeToo. Themes of justice and hypocrisy are woven in typically Shakespearean fashion with comedy and a fast-moving, constantly twisting plot.
The play runs from March 27th to April 1st 2023. Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.
The Wharf Theatre in Devizes begin their 2023 program with Amanda Whittington’s Ladies’ Day, running from January 30th to February 4th……
This play, which premiered in 2005, is the first of a trilogy which follows the adventures of Pearl, Jane, Shelley, and Linda. It’s written by Amanda Whittington with arrangements with Nick Hern Books, and directed by John Winterton.
The ladies are a fish-filleting foursome for whom work, love and life are just one long hard slog until their fortunes look set to change when Linda ﬁnds tickets to Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot, the year it is relocated to York.
Out go the hair nets, overalls, and wellies as the four of them ditch work, do themselves up to the nines and head off to the races for a drink, a ﬂirt and a ﬂutter. Secrets are spilled with the champagne but if their luck holds, they could just hit the jackpot and more besides!
Described by The Stage as, “as much fun as a day at the races and, arguably, better value for money,” Ladies’ Day will be the first production at Devizes Wharf Theatre, with more to follow. So, while we await the Wharf’s homegrown program, outsourced productions include a fresh and inventive improvised comedy called Instant Wit, on 18th February, and on February 25th, when the Apollo Theatre Company presents The Songs & Monologues of Joyce Grenfell.
Though word on the grapevine is you’ll be treated to some Shakespeare and The Railway Children, this coming year, and The Wharf also plans a theatre open day one Saturday in April, when they hope people will join them for refreshments and a tour of the theatre, offering the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes.
Tickets for Ladies’ Day can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website; wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.
Most reviews are quite sombre, written in the third person with a degree of distance. Not this one. It’s time to throw that book away and speak from the heart. This “review” is openly praiseworthy and could even appear sycophantic. Meh. Whatever. It probably is somewhat cringeworthily first person centric – always a no-no. Though I would hasten to add that while I mention “me” and “I” quite a lot the real recipient of attention is most definitely… “The Invitation Theatre Company” a.k.a TITCO.…
Some history. TITCO was started by Jim and Mary Roberts, in Devizes, back in the 70s, based on a bunch of friends coming together to put on shows others didn’t. They both passed on in time and TITCO “went to sleep” for a while – until resurrected with a passion by Jim and Mary’s daughter Jemma in 2009. Since then, Jemma and her husband Anthony have driven TITCO on in a similar vein to her parents – a bunch of friends putting in shows nobody else does.
There’s one very important word in the above paragraph. The F-word.
Fast forward to 2022, November. And “The Dinner Party”. It’s been mentioned that this will be the last TITCO show for a while – and the setting of “The Dinner Party” (TDP for future reference!) is a beautifully framed homage of that situation. Set as if in Jemma and Anthony’s home (complete with genuine pictures and wall art from their real home I can testify – plus their lovely dog, Wilson!) the setting is that of a get together for “Titters” – the members of TITCO.
This is where my review gets personal, and breaks the traditions as explained above. I was invited into the TITCO fold in 2015 for “Pirates of Penzance”, was made a Titter in 2015 and have shared a stage on multiple occasions since then. The rollcall is amazing… including “Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the World’s” (WOTW)– twice. Driven by Anthony’s pride and joy “The Full Tone Orchestra” (FTO) of course.
So you see, I am part of this amazing company.
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” … As some bloke once said… And of course, Sisters (Sister Act 2016!).
Friends. Friends that come together and create amazing shows.
Which brings us back to TDP. Naturally.
So, the bunch of friends meeting for a dinner party naturally – this being TITCO – leads to spontaneous singing and performing as everybody takes it in turns to entertain the table or sing together in shared beauty. The evening’s menu is a mix of old and new, well-loved songs. From a starter of a few run-a-dub, London based favourites (“Last Night at the Conductors Arms”) onto a main course where some pretty serious singing came out. Promoted from his youthful renditions of Frederick, Sean Andrews gallantly moved into Major General mode – followed shortly after by “Luck Be A Lady Tonight” (A FTO Big Band speciality of his). South Pacific made its appearance (Brief History of Musicals 2015) with a heart rendition from the chaps of “Nothing like a dame” but not until after a spirited, marigolds glove tassel twirling (*cough*) performance of “Wash That Man” !
The revamped TITCO’s first musical – JCS – was paid tribute to with Herod’s song – led by the joyous Tim Hobbs – and the ladies’ exquisite “Could we Start Again Please”? Blood Brothers came to the party also with “Marilyn Monroe” by Ally Moore and an ensemble “Tell Me It’s Not True”. The “big show” additions continued with Chris Worthy singing “Forever Autumn” from WOTW … but we were also shown little TITCO in-jokes throughout the show. Let’s just say that one Titter is NOT a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan – but succumbed to the (Hot) Mikado’s “The Hour of Gladness” … good on ya Jemma! The main course came to its end with a couple of light-hearted pieces – “Me and My Shadow” by Chris and Anthony – somewhat a party piece of theirs, truth be told – and a fantastically hilarious version of “Pam” by Tina Duffin.
That wasn’t quite all of the main course though. As an almost surprise and wonderful lets-slip-this-in, one of TITCO’s stalwart accompanists Dominic Irving dueted with Mari Webster on “City of Stars”. Dom is one of those people that can play about a million instruments brilliantly – but I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing him sing – until tonight. Wow. Just – wow….
The night was hurtling towards its conclusion now. Five ensemble pieces completed our pudding course – with tear jerking numbers “Seasons of Love” and “Hallelujah”, and the uplifting and vibrant “Circle of Life”, “From Now On” and “Rhythm of Life”.
Then the dinner party was over, and so the guests wended their way into the night, Jemma said good night to Anthony… who called Wilson into the garden.
I started this review saying this was an open love letter to TITCO. And it is. From your invitation in 2015 until today as a company TITCO has shown me friendship, inclusion, and provided me with every opportunity I could want in TITCO shows – and allowed me to run the show bars!. From a somewhat fay pirate (Pirates of Penzance), to a mobster (Sister Act), The Voice of Humanity (WOTW – twice), to cow & narrator (the “cowrator” in “Into the Woods”), Albert the publican (Last night at the Conductor’s Arms ), then a hectic seven characters and twelve costume changes plus ladder climbing in two hours (Spamalot). And of course ensemble singing and solos in concerts and the FullTone Music Festival. You built me. I’ve done amazing shows with other companies, but TITCO built me. And I thank you.
I wasn’t involved in tonight’s Dinner Party – a medical procedure (a good one I hasten to add!) precluded my involvement. But I sat in the audience, watching my friends deliver another polished smooth performance. Under my breath I sang with them. I laughed at the little in-jokes. I wanted to be there with them – but then I couldn’t have enjoyed their joie-de-vivre, seen the love, the friendship oozing from their every pore. As a sign said on stage “Friends are the greatest gift in life”.
Chapeau TITCO. I raise my walking stick to you all tonight.
A final word (or ten…). This is “the last TITCO show for a while”. So I just want to say as I sign off my open love letter is…
A huge congratulations to Jess Self, 13, from Devizes, who has won Vernon Kay’s Talent Nation…..
Presented by Park Dean Resorts, Talent Nation had over 2,500 applications and ran at 52 holiday parks across the UK.
Jess travelled to Skegness where she made the final twelve, and was then crowned the overall winner by judges, including Alison Hammond and Strictly star AJ Pritchard. She performed a medley from Hairspray The Musical.
Jess said, “it’s like a dream come true. It was such an amazing experience and was a great opportunity.”
You can see Jess, performing as Red Riding Hood at the Wharf Theatre’s pantomime, Little Red Riding Hood, running from 9th to 17th December. Tickets HERE.
Jess, who loves performing, and is currently at Stagecoach performing arts school in Trowbridge, added she “can’t wait” to perform in the Wharf Pantomime and is excited to see everyone’s hard work come together. She says she’s extremely grateful for every opportunity that comes her way.
Well done, Jess; keep up the amazing work, fingers crossed, next stop, Broadway!
A wet and windy Halloween night was quite an odd elemental preparation for going to see this atmospheric play. Set in the wide-open spaces and searing heat of 1900 Southern Australia, the tight confines of our lovely little Wharf Theatre seemed as if it would present a stretch of the imagination just a step too far. But not a bit of it, and Director Debby Wilkinson had done a marvellous job in transforming the obvious physical limitations of a small stage into a much bigger canvas.
The plot of this mystery tale, rumoured to be loosely based on real events, is initially quite straightforward. On St Valentine’s Day in 1900, a group of schoolgirls from Appleyard College set out for a picnic at Hanging Rock, a volcanic beauty spot in rural Victoria. After their picnic, a group of the girls climb into the blaze of the afternoon sun. But their idyllic day turns to tragedy as three of their number inexplicably vanish, never to be seen again. The complexities then arise. Despite extensive searching, no bodies are found. Questions begin to be asked, and the answers are rarely forthcoming. Back-stories and under-currents are discovered. Memories differ. Uncertainly prevails. We begin to understand that, in fact, there are many things that we do not understand.
Using just five female actors to both narrate and to act out the story, there is little room for manoeuvre. We are compelled to use our own imaginations to fill in many of the blanks. The bare, stripped-back set, and the use of virtually no props, only serves to reinforce the bleakness and emptiness of the rough landscape. We are taken through the disappearance and its aftermath, its many layers of uncertainty and a whole range of contrasts – truth and lies, light and dark, dreams and nightmares, the real and the imaginary, and the unsettling way in which facts seem to simply dissolve into nothingness. The open-ness of the great outdoors is set against the stifling atmosphere of the school, and the claustrophobia of the rules of genteel society.
This was a wonderful cast. There were five very strong, word-perfect performances from Helen Langford, Imogen Riley, Louise Peak, Lucy Upward and Cassidy Hill. Their pace and movement around the stage, as one role melted into another, was confident and assured. Their ability to switch genders, voices, tones and attitudes was excellent. Without apparent effort, they immersed you in both the story itself and into the motives and feelings of the different characters. Totally convincing and professional throughout. Top work.
The adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s original 1967 novel by Tom Wright is a tautly pared-back affair, yet there is no loss of poetic and lyrical language. Previous film and TV adaptations have had the luxury of using the great Australian landscape as their background, but here it all had to be in the language and the acting. And the five actors absolutely nailed it. The sense of mystery was never lost, and the audience were bound in.
This is exactly the sort of production that the Wharf excels at. The stage and the arena are, by many standards, very small. There’s always going to be a skill in selecting the right productions and using the best directors to make the best of these limitations. Picnic At Hanging Rock is absolutely one of those productions. Please go and see it. This production is excellent and fully deserves your support – you won’t be disappointed! The production runs from tonight (Tuesday) through to Saturday 5th November at 7.30pm each evening. Book your tickets HERE
Future productions at The Wharf Theatre:
Mon 14th – Sat 19th Sept TITCo Evening of Musical Theatre
Opening on Halloween and ending on Guy Fawkes Night, the next production at Devizes Wharf Theatre promises to be a mysteriously eerie….
Written by Joan Lindsay adapted by Tom Wright and directed by Debby Wilkinson, Picnic at Hanging Rock takes place on St Valentine’s Day in 1900, when a group of schoolgirls from Appleyard College set out for a picnic at Hanging Rock, a volcanic beauty spot in rural Victoria, Australia.
After lunch some of them climb into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of the rock. However, their idyllic day turns into a nightmare when three of their number inexplicably vanish, never to be seen again.
The question remains and intrigues audiences to this day – is the plot an eerie re-telling of a real event? ‘Hanging Rock’ exists, as do the surrounding towns mentioned; the boarding school is loosely based on Clyde Girls’ Grammar School in Melbourne, which the author attended and there was reportedly a case of two girls who went missing in the 1800’s. Or could it be that the author simply dreamt the plot, as she once said? Shrouded in mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock remains a firm favourite with film and theatre audiences alike.
In this Wharf production five female narrators perform all parts and recount the mystery of the disappearance and looming hysteria as the illusion of genteel society is torn apart. Tom Wright’s adaptation pares down the events and uses evocative and poetic language to create an edgy and mysterious play and Debby Wilkinson’s incredibly strong cast bring a wealth of experience and talent.
Home after previewing a dress rehearsal at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes last night, I kissed my wife goodnight. She didn’t understand the relevance, but Henrik Ibsen’s magnum opus, Hedda Gabler is one seriously thought-provoking play……
They didn’t have Billy Joel’s doo-wop fad in nineteenth century Norway, see, otherwise the protagonist’s husband, George Tesman could’ve benefitted by taking heed of the lyrics of Tell Her About It, such as the line “let her know how much she means.”
Whereas it’s typical for a fellow to be wilfully pig ignorant in taking their partner for granted, George, played impeccably by Chris Smith, is seemingly oblivious of his psychological man-shed. In modern terminology one might suggest he’s on the autistic spectrum, but definitely, this academic lacks common sense over a work obsession. This is expressed rather amusingly in the opening scene with the assertive “Aunt Ju-Ju,” grandly represented by Jessica Bone.
She interrogates him in pompous nineteenth century mannerisms, in the hope of gaining some pregnancy gossip, but poor old George just doesn’t take the hint any more than Frank Spencer.
Seems he proudly spent his lengthy honeymoon researching for his new book, much to the dismay and rancour of his rather stubborn wife, Hedda, who, longing for a spirit of adventure and drama, finds herself feeling trapped, lonesome and unloved; it’d be an epic fail for Match.com!
Together, her frustrations and his nescient glee, combined with four other exceptionally well-defined characters, twists the kind narrative Ricky Gervais needs to be taking notes from. Character-driven, elements might feel comical at first, but subtle black humour is gradually collapsing into tragedy; such the reason you’ll come away from it realising its stroke of genius.
A feminine Hamlet, perhaps, as the plot thickens to a dramatic climax, but I’ll relax my waffling for fear of spoilers. Though if the plot relies on conflicting characters, this wasn’t the case behind the scenes. Director, Lewis Cowen delighted to tell me the casting immediately fell into place effectively, and indeed this convincing team bounce of each other so well it’d be impossible to extract their real personalities. There’s no way I’m going to attempt to obtain trigger-happy lead role Ange Davis’s phone number, for instance, not after witnessing her sublime expressions of bitterness and contempt for her fellow characters! Her second stint at the Wharf Theatre after appearing in Revlon Girl in March; in layman’s terms, Ange takes on the protagonist roll like a boss.
Pete Wallis wonderfully plays the woeful Eilert Lövborg expressively, personifying the bleeding heart of the artist. With his heart on his sleeve and love for the bottle, he’s easily convinced, but the kingpin to George’s jealousy.
The weak and diffident Thea Elvsted is played to perfection by Anna McGrail, her despair at her broken marriage is paramount to yield Hedda’s vengeance and bullying nature.
Undoubtedly housemaid Bertha, acted subtly but professionally clownish by Merrily Powell, retains the comedy noir while it spirals into tragedy, via her shocked expressions, omniscience but knowing her place to remain silent.
The unscrupulous and advantageous persona of Judge Brack, played sternly by Rob Gill, pitches him as the dark horse, the archetypal baddie, if there has to be one. Rather the depth of all the characters, needy or lusting after Hedda in their own way, here shows far more layers to them then the typically flatness of the Hollywood template.
For if said template is becoming tiresome for you, you know the sort; a couple or amount of people with conflicting personalities come together with an abhorrence of each other but thrust unwillingly into a set of circumstances find mutual ground and befriend with a happy ending, perhaps you should grab up a ticket for Hedda Gabler, running at the Wharf Theatre from the 19th to the 24th September. Because if the cliche template is a reversible jumper, akin to classics such as Easy Rider or Quadrophenia, this intelligently crafted dark play turns it inside out.
I mean, I’m no theatrical critic, just know what I like, but if the hospitable and non-pretentious Wharf Theatre welcome me to assess such quality productions as this, on our doorstep, I’m game!
If opposites attract, love is calmly discussing and accepting your differences, but the escape clause wasn’t so simple in days of yore, and in the confines of the era’s strict conducts, a terrible entrapment can twist a person; that’s the contemplation I took away with me after this engaging and quality production; go see for yourself.
The wonderful Wharf Theatre in Devizes is reopening this month for a new autumn-winter season; I know, don’t say “winter,” not yet!
Hedda Gabler is the first production, running from 19th to 24th September. It’s written by Henrik Ibsen with a translation by Michael Meyer. The Wharf’s chief director, Lewis Cowen is on this one, and it’s the second work of Henrik Ibsen to be performed at our trusty theatre.
In 2007 The Wharf Theatre staged an adaptation of the highly successful ‘A Doll’s House’ by acclaimed Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. They are now delighted to introduce, perhaps, his greatest work, Hedda Gabler.
Having its world premiere, in Germany 1891, the play initially opened to mixed reviews however, a more sympathetic, naturalistic London production three months later was a triumph. Now considered a masterpiece within the genres of literary realism and 19th century drama it is rarely out of the repertoire of the great theatre companies of the world.
The title character herself remains one of the greatest female dramatic roles and has been portrayed by some of the biggest names in theatre and film, including Ingrid Bergman, Peggy Ashcroft, Dianna Rigg, Geraldine James and, more recently, Sheridan Smith.
Sometimes described as a female version of Hamlet, Hedda is a character firmly set against the backdrop of the Victorian era when women could only achieve success vicariously through the men in their lives. The daughter of a General and national hero, Hedda idolises her Father but harbours her own political ambitions. She attempts to achieve these by influencing firstly her husband and later an admirer
A drama which starts quietly and humorously gradually builds to a riveting and terrifying climax.
Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street……and don’t forget to follow them on Instagram and Twitter
A dollop of Lewis Carroll, shards of C. S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and perhaps even nicer elements of Tolkien, The World Under the Wood will put a smile on your face and bring out the inner child in you.…..
Being honest, it doesn’t take too much to bring out the inner child out in this grumpy old man, but more to cheer me up, and this did both, delightfully!
Running until Sunday, with matinees and evening performances at Devizes’ Wharf Theatre, this simply charming hour-long play, written and directed by Helen Langford is so whimsical, such a delight, you will be captivated by its magical cross-realms. Ideally you need a child aged six plus, but anyone into fairytales you can drag along, I suggest you do. Break out some glitter!
Yet while citing the obvious influences of classic children’s literature combines the settings and themes, it overlooks the subject, a contemporary feel of industry versus nature, the environmental angle on everyone’s lips, especially children. And it presents it in such an easy, fantastical way, without complication or ‘rubbing your face in it’ any age will be absorbed by the moral. Anymore synopsis and I’m verging on spoliers!
All homegrown talent, The World Under the Wood is an unmissable Wharf exclusive. The protagonist, Jodie, a kind of Dorothy-Dora hybrid is played confidently and spectacularly by Georgina Claridge, and her interactions with archetypal characters manage to retain the charm of those they pastiche, a talking tree, played gracefully by Chris Smith, pet dog by Carolynn Coomer, and Louise Peak as the queen-like Great Leader of an industrial underworld of robotic oompa loompa-like humans adds pantomime humour to the show.
Yet, it is not pantomime, in so much its zany or sing-along element is slight above the morals, but it is partially musical, with simple but effective original songs. If I’m honest, I huffed at the thought of going to see a “family” show, but I came out the other end chuffed, sprinkled with psychological fairy dust and mused with an emotion of sustainability on equal terms.
Your kids will love it, you might love it more! The World Under the Wood is running now, ending Sunday 26th June at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes. Tickets HERE.
Been a while since I’d been to our town’s lovely little theatre, and it was a joy to go back again.…..
The occasion was the staging of Abi Morgan’s “Lovesong”. Now I happen to be a fan of Abi Morgan’s writing, and anyone who watched the recent BBC1 three-series drama “The Split” will know exactly what I’m on about. Her catalogue of work in TV, film and live theatre has won plenty of much-deserved critical acclaim. Accordingly, I was very much looking forward to this production, about which I’d heard many positive comments (and which we briefly previewed here at Devizine recently).
The play, directed by the talented Freddie Underwood, no stranger to Wharf productions for a few years now, is a tight emotional drama. Starring only four actors – Imogen Riley, Adam Ball, John Winterton and Tor Burt – “Lovesong” tells the story of one couple from two different points in their lives, both as young lovers in their 20s, and as older companions looking back on their lives. Their relationship is reviewed by their past and present selves, blending youthful yearning and optimism with more worldly experience. The start of a youthful relationship blends with an impending death.
I found the production quite mesmerising, captured by the verbal and physical choreography of the piece. The tactile interactions of the two couples (being really the same couple) was offset by their inability to talk to their future or past selves, only their contemporaneous partner. It made for some interesting debates, particularly in the second half, about whether time (and space) is linear, or whether the past, present and future are somehow all fused together. Life events happen, they come and go, but emotions and feelings are far more complex than that.
The two younger members of the cast – Imogen Riley and Adam Ball – gave confident and assured performances, looking quite at home on the stage as the younger version of the couple. But it was the elder version of the couple – played by John Winterton (in a rare appearance in front of the audience), and the talented and evergreen Tor Burt – that edged it for me. It may be an age thing, but I found the way that they inhabited their roles quite fascinating. Their concerns, their issues and their undoubted love for each other were conveyed in an utterly convincing performance.
I won’t spoil the ending (and you can see it coming a mile off) but it was pretty heart-wrenching, and there were plenty of weepy eyes in the auditorium to prove it.
For me, this was an ideal type of production to run at the Wharf, given its tight space restrictions on stage. A cast of only four had enough room on a sparsely-dressed stage to actually move and to breathe, and therefore you could concentrate on the words and the action, without your eye being distracted any purely physical/ practical stage constraints in productions with a larger cast.
I found the music in the first half slightly distracting, but the balance felt much better in the second half. That minor quibble aside, this was overall a superb production. Starting with Abi Morgan’s tautly-scripted prose, Freddie Underwood’s assured direction, working with four very good actors on stage, and we had the recipe for success. Very highly recommended.
There are still a few tickets left for tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday), so get along to see it if you possibly can. You won’t regret it. Box Office – 03336 663366 or www.wharftheatre.co.uk
Future productions at The Wharf Theatre:
23rd – 26th June The World Under The Wood 19th – 24th September Hedda Garbler 1st October The Lesson (Icarus Theatre Company) – one night only 7th October London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra – one night only
The World under the Wood is a new musical-play for children & family audiences written by Helen Langford, who brought ‘Adam & The Gurglewink’ to the Wharf in 2020…..
Jodie meets a magical talking Tree who asks for her help. The wood seems to be dying and Tree thinks the incredible World under the Wood may hold the answer…Jodie is whisked away to a super-world where life moves super-fast. But she discovers that this world is failing too; the super-humans have been collapsing and productivity is down. Jodie and Harley the dog must now journey between worlds to find an answer. Can the mega-multiplier plants restore the wood? And what is the mysterious Source?
The play highlights the need to stop taking the natural-world and its resources for granted. The world under the wood is an awe-inspiring land of invention and productivity, but Jodie discovers that the resources which underpin it are, to everyone’s surprise, finite. The ‘super-humans’ parody the rat-race of contemporary life, where achievement is king and the constant cycle of doing is reassuringly exhausting. Any long-term consequences of living this way have been ignored…until now. We learn through Jodie’s adventure, that it is through perseverance and working together that environmental problems can be tackled.
Though the message is timely and serious, the show is full of fun. With larger-than-life characters, catchy songs, and magical happenings, you’re sure to love your adventure to the world under the wood!
The World Under the Wood runs from Thursday 23rd June till the Sunday, 26th June.
Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website https://www.wharftheatre.co.uk/ and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street……and don’t forget to follow on Instagram and Twitter.
Ticket Prices: £6.00 – £8.00* Family 4 – £22.00* Family 5 – £28.00* *booking fee applies For Group Bookings please contact email@example.com directly to ensure that you only pay one booking fee.
Director Freddie Underwood, who brought the highly successful Things I Know To Be True to the Wharf Theatre, Devizes in 2019 once again puts her personal stamp on this production with the use of movement and music partnering text…..
Written by Abi Morgan Lovesong comes to the Wharf on Monday 23rd and runs until Saturday 28th May. Inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem, the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – the story of a middle-aged man who, although in love, feels his love song has never been sung – Abi Morgan’s play revolves around one couple at two very different stages of their lives. First produced in 2011, the story introduces us to young lovers displaying all the optimism of youth alongside their older selves who have the wisdom and experience of age, but now face growing old with the ensuing frailties of the human body. Past and present literally intertwine as the older and younger couples move around each other on the stage and this poignant piece will take the audience on a journey which ultimately leads back to the belief that…love is a leap of faith…
Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.
To those living in Devizes it should come as no surprise Jemma Brown can pull off a performance. Directing a stage version of the eighty’s sitcom classic Allo Allo at the Wharf Theatre has been hailed a massive success, Devizes’ sole theatre Tweeted this morning “Café Rene may have returned to the workshop, but the echoes of laughter will mark its place in Wharf history.”
But looking forward today at forthcoming performances, after the rescheduled feel-good musical comedy Sister Act JR, (25th & 26th February,) and the jocularity of award-winning theatre company White Cobra’s Betty & Joan, on the 5th March, the next in-house production takes rather a melancholic turn.
From the 28th March to 2nd April, The Revlon Girl is set eight months after the Aberfan disaster, the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in 1966, in the Welsh village of Aberfan. The devastating slurry took the lives of 116 children and 28 adults as it submerged the village’s junior school.
The Revlon Girl tells the real-life story of a group of bereaved mothers who met every week to talk, cry and even laugh without feeling guilt. At one of their meetings, they secretly arrange for a representative from American multinational cosmetics, and fragrance company Revlon, to come and give them a talk on beauty tips.
Directed by Lyn Taylor, this is a play packed with character and heartache, entwining the restraints, gossip and sometime irrationality of a small-town community, with the poignancy of a mother’s loss. There are many humorous, uplifting and hopeful moments, allowing this piece to bring much emotion and entertainment to its audience.
Book office is open on this one now, tickets are £10-£14, with the success of the recently closed Allo Allo, the Wharf goes from strength-to-strength, yet while a show like the last one will sell itself based on its background in popular culture, it is the poignant and ground-breaking dramas such as this which really deserves the push. Personally, I’m impartial to putting on some slap, bit of lippy at the weekend p’haps, but please support your local arts anyway!
That’s it – the set is now complete! Back in August we had the Fulltone Orchestra striking up once again after a long enforced lay-off. In September Devizes Musical Theatre shyly peeked out from behind the showbiz curtain. October saw White Horse Opera step out onto the stage, and now, in November, TITCO have finally switched on the lights back on! And what a delight it was to have them back, completing the fantastic range of local music offerings based in D-Town.
Switched from the earlier venue of St Mary’s to the, perhaps more suitable, surroundings of the Wharf Theatre, TITCO hit the stage with their presentation “Switch The Lights Back On”. From Chris Worthy’s opening number of “Wilkommen” from Cabaret, right through to the closing ensemble rendition of The Proclaimers’ “Over And Done With” we had a fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable evening.
The two-hour programme included songs from Cabaret, Cats, Jesus Chris Superstar, Sunset Boulevard, School of Rock, Joseph, Spamalot, Billy Elliot, Les Miserables, Hamilton, Once, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and Sunshine on Leith. The numbers chosen were not always the usual ones from those shows, not always the obvious biggest “hits” that one would normally think of, but great songs nevertheless. The items chosen, and the sequence of those songs, nicely showcased the individual talents of the cast members, giving most of them at least one solo, with duets and ensemble numbers. It certainly worked for me.
The staging was simple and sparse, allowing the music to do all the talking. Dressed all in black, with little in the way of colour or props to distract the eye, the songs were completely to the front. Musical accompaniment was understated, but absolutely spot-on, provided by Dominic Irving on keyboard, Lou Hewitt on bass, and Becky Nottingham on percussion. And in front of them, although it’s always a little unfair to single out particular individuals, the stars of the night (for me at least) were Chris Worthy, Mari Webster, Matt Dauncey and Jemma Brown. But there were strong performances all round. And I also have to give a special mention to our local Fulltone Orchestra musical arranger and baton-wielder, Anthony Brown. I’m so used to seeing him from the back conducting his orchestra, that I’d almost forgotten what he looked like, and that he has a wonderful voice! Respect!
The show’s finale consisted of three songs from “Sunshine On Leith”, the musical by Stephen Greenhorn, based on the music of The Proclaimers, a fitting trailer for the full-length production which will take place at St Mary’s, Devizes next June 2022.
Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable show. Full disclosure – I’m not the greatest fan of musicals – but even I couldn’t help but warmly applaud this splendid show. And I was in good company – the audience throughout was loud and enthusiastic in their well-deserved rounds of applause.
The show runs through to Saturday 13th November, and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending that you get along and see it. There are still a few tickets left (but not many!) – I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed, and that you’ll have a great night out. Trust me!
Spoiled Rotten in Devizes this November you are. In what is usually a quiet month leading up to yule, the easing of lockdown has detonated the month, opening it up as anyone’s game. It’s just so good to see a chockful event calendar for the whole county, and so many event organisers making a Rocky Balboa style comeback.
Aside our dependable Southgate, who’ve led the way for events in Devizes, and continue to provide top notch live music every weekend, free I might add, it’s exciting to see the Cavalier, The Muck & Dundar, and even the Condado Lounge in the running.
There are some big guns coming out too, as we welcome back the Wharf Theatre, who hosted The Paul Simon Story last weekend, and the return of the Invitation Theatre Company from Tuesday (9th) to Saturday (13th) this coming week. The Long Street Blues Club are back in force with three gigs this month, the Gerry Jablonski Band Saturday 13th, Force on the 20th, which is such a whopper it’s coming out of The Corn Exchange rather than usual Cons Club, and the Antonio Forcione Quartet on the 27th.
If it’s sounding good so far, we’ve not even touched on Devizes Eisteddfod from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th, The Lawrence Art Society’s exhibition at the Town Hall from 25th to the 27th, and of course DOCA bring the Winter Festival and lantern parade on the 26th.
With all that I’ve mentioned it would be understandable to have overlooked the icing on the cake; Devizes Arts Festival surprisingly pops up to host some awesome events this month, when it’s usually confined to more summery months. Despite we’ve outlined the individual gigs lined up at the Arts Festival, back when it was announced in August, such has lockdown caused much jiggery-pokery with the dates of such things, and not forgoing I’d suspect the Arts Festival got itchy fingers and simply couldn’t wait until summertime to present us with some amazing performances, these things need reminders, so here I am!
Though the opening gig, Thursday’s Ronnie Scott’s All Stars Jazz Club Tour has sold out, tickets for the others are on the table awaiting your attention, plus, of course there’s free fringe events across town too. Let’s have another look at what’s on offer here, to wet your appetite shall we?
Under the banner, “the show must go on,” the Arts Festival are delighted to welcome Sally Barker to Devizes, on the 13th. In this new show ‘Sandy, Joni & Me’ she will bring some of the songs of both Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny to the stage, exploring the singer/songwriter legacy that was forged in the early ’70s.
Veteran folk-blues singer/songwriter Sally Barker became Tom Jones’ finalist on The Voice UK 2014 after reducing her mentor, and many watching the TV, to tears with her performances. Sally has toured with Sir Tom, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant amongst others. Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans said, “Sally changes the atmosphere in a room when she sings.”
And Friday 19th is Motown Gold time at the Corn Exchange. Dust off your dancing shoes for a fabulous evening from a fantastic band. Motown Gold celebrate the finest songs from the timeless Motown and Classic Soul era, which kind of speaks for itself.
As for free Fringe events, The Muck & Dundar have loop pedal guru Arif Najak bringing laid-back reggae sounds on Friday 12th. Sunday 14th is at New Society, where you’ll find Bristol’s dynamic jazz vocalist Lucy Moon, performing energetic swing and classic swing-era tunes to liven up your Sunday lunchtime. Booking is essential for this one, contact New Society to reserve your table.
There’s a couple more fringe events before the Arts Festival’s grand Motown finale; South Wales’s Big Sky are at The Crown on Wednesday 17th, with roots rock infused with touches of blues, country and psychedelia, they are known for being one of the few bands containing brothers who have not yet had an on-stage altercation! And Thursday 18th sees Mark Harrison at the Three Crowns. An original and interesting songwriter, a stunning guitarist, and a master storyteller.
It is, in all my years of running Devizine, the biggest November I’ve ever seen! But the Devizes Arts Festival doesn’t stop there, this is just filling a gap. I asked artistic director Margaret Bryant if there will be something in the pipeline for a summer arts festival too, and she replied “yes, we’re already planning 2022!”
How will the Wharf Theatre follow the huge success of Jesus Christ Superstar? I can tell you this much; it will be Glorious!
How do I know? Press release, see, the production is called Glorious, and it’s the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, dubbed “The Worst Singer in the World!” A play by Peter Quilter, directed by Liz Sharman, neither of whom have obviously heard me singing in the shower!
It enjoyed a West End run, starring Maureen Lipman, and takes a more humorous approach to its subject matter than the recent Meryl Streep film. Our wonderful Wharf Theatre in Devizes are running it from Monday 25th – Saturday 30th October, shows at 7.30pm.
Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944) was an American soprano, socialite and philanthropist. Her love of music and performing became evident at a young age when she played the piano and performed at various functions under the name of ‘Little Miss Foster’; on one occasion even performing at the White House.
After graduating high school, she nursed dreams of going to Europe to study music but her father staunchly refused. When an accident then left her unable to play the piano to the level she had previously, she reluctantly pursued a career as a piano teacher.
In 1909, after one failed marriage, she met British actor, St Clair Bayfield, who remained her partner for the rest of her life. That same year her father died and, having been left a considerable fortune, she seized the opportunity to pursue her singing dreams despite having little obvious talent.
The poet William Meredith wrote that a Jenkins recital, “was never exactly an aesthetic experience, or only to the degree that an early Christian among the lions provided aesthetic experience; it was chiefly immolatory, and Madame Jenkins was always eaten, in the end.”
In the 1920’s she began financing her own shows and with her charm and shining costumes she did, in many ways, find success. In reality she was both adored and mocked by her audiences but although now considered possibly the worst opera singer in the world, who sang out of tune and had no discernible rhythm people still remember her.
One especially amusing anecdote tells of Florence’s high-pitched scream when in a taxi once, which collided with another car. Arriving home, she made haste for her piano, confirming, least to herself, that the note she had shrieked was the mythical F above high C, a pitch she had never before been able to reach. Ecstatic, she refused to press charges against either involved party, and even sent the taxi driver a box of expensive cigars.
But the most perplexing question surrounding her life was whether she was in on the joke, or honestly believed she had vocal talent, this remains a matter of debate. This hilarious farce picks up her story in 1940’s New York, and sounds a blast!
One reason why I enjoyed Jesus Christ Superstar at Devizes Wharf Theatre yesterday evening, is similar to why I like sci-fi and fantasy genres.
No, hear me out, long winded it maybe, but there’s a point! With sci-fi you can take an earth-bound concept, and moving it from its usual perimeters, see it for what it truly is, without being predetermined via propaganda or personal opinion. Example; racism. Take a green coloured race of aliens fighting with a blue race, and from outside looking in you can see how completely meaningless and rash it is.
Jesus Christ Superstar throws out preconceptions of this renowned Easter story, bought about by biblical re-enactments and more commonly accepted adaptions. In essence, it’s a rock opera, opera is tragedy, and rock music is modernised, least it was when Tim Rice and Andrew Llyod Webber created it.
I often wonder what it was like for Michael Jackson, in the limo to the show, mobbed by obsessive devotees throwing themselves unashamedly at him. In a way, the tragic desolation and isolation of fame is more the subject in question, rather than the biblical Easter story. Just like our sci-fi scenario, it never suggests a religious connection, never states definitively that Jesus is the son of God. It takes the story out of the usual context and reconnects the dots.
The set is deliberately void, mostly of black backdrop, and props are minimal. Rather than a school play’s amateurishly painted scene, the darkness leaves the setting to your imagination. While Nazareth and Rome are mentioned, there’s no depiction of it. The concentration is flowed into the characters and music. For Jesus here is unlike another representation; in fact, I’d argue Brian from Monty Python’s “Life of” is closer! Played convincingly by Jordan Overton, if this was intentional, I found Jesus actually quite irritating. Far from blasphemous given the circumstances, for here he’s unforgiving, frustrated at the mounting iconic hysteria surrounding him. Probably more likely how it would be, especially in the modern era.
If Jordan made a grand job of it, more so did the surrounding characters, for Judas is Jerry if Jesus is Tom, the tension between the two the narrative. Arguably Peter Assirati’s performance is passionately executed greater, the focus on his despair is equal pegging, as Judas feels overexposure will be Jesus’s ruin. Like washed up rock stars or actors in the modern era, we know from tragedies like Marylin Monroe, to Whitney and Kurt Cobain, the feeling is real. In a way then, the lines between protagonist and antagonist are blurred, another reason why I liked this piece of musical theatre.
More general is the third reason; the Wharf is such a splendid asset to Devizes. This historic shoebox theatre central to town is so welcoming, if the doormat was curled at the edge staff would lie over it so you don’t trip. Chat in the auditorium is not of condescending theatre-goers and thespians, rather an almost family ambience with an age demographic to match. As with most venues, lockdown flogged this theatre, kicking it while it was down. Those who can, bearing in mind ticket stubs here are far more reasonably priced than city playhouses, are dutybound to help it to its feet. I witnessed said devotion firmly in place already, as Jesus Christ Superstar plays to a full house.
The fourth reason I enjoyed it is simply the surprise element. I went in critical, didn’t expect to actually like it, given the theme tune’s school playground variant of yore, set to ridicule it with Yamahas and dustbin lids, was wedged in my mind. Anyone younger will have to ask Alexa about this; I’ve exposed my age enough already!
I tip my hat to the performances of additional characters, Pete Winterton casted perfectly for the seventies-fashioned game show host version of Herod, breathing one humorous element to the tragedy, at least! Francis Holmes as Caiaphas made for the textbook managerial role and convincingly bellowed his solo with professionalism.
Emma Holmes and Chris Smith’s recitals of Simon and Peter, respectively, being especially poignant. None so much though as Mary Magdalene, played by Cassy Swann, who, with her astute expressions of woe and loyalty, her superior voice commanded the stage above all else. In this, full credit has also to be awarded to Victoria Warren, music director, and the band, Jennifer Cardno, Bob Ball, Claire Borovac and John Joy, for limited to a four-piece, amalgamated the show to epic and euphoric proportions.
You should note, if you go see this, at the time, amidst the hullabaloo surrounding its controversial subject, it took the best part of decade to alter from rock opera album to the stage in London, and only because of its success in the USA. True music fans will recognise this more as an album of music than a play, ergo the dynamics of elaborate stage effects are deliberately stripped back, the opening of Jesus Christ Superstar rightfully displays the band playing the overture prior to actors taking their stance. But go see it you should; decide quick and seize a ticket post haste. It’s only running at the Wharf Theatre until this Saturday, the 18th September, and last time I checked, tickets are up for grabs weekdays, Saturday is sold out.
With Jesus Christ Superstar coming to Devizes’ Wharf Theatre, I’m pondering, just how outrageous was it at the time, and how has adaptations and satires of biblical stories become more acceptable?
So yeah, from what I remember, knee-high to a puppy at the time, he came down from heaven on a Yamaha, pulled a skid, killed a kid, trapped his balls in a dustbin lid.
Other rhymes circulated school playgrounds nationwide, but all the variations of the Jesus Christ Superstar theme were considered on the topper-most level of naughtiness, most likely because we figured it lampooned Jesus. When in all actual fact, above the tittering of school children, had the damage not already been done by the very thing we were parodying?
In a competitive era when the concept album had come of age, so rock musicals and rock opera were becoming fashionable, one had to raise the controversy bar in order to get noticed. With Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat already under their belts and bugging religious zealots, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice knew blasphemy long before Madge frolicked with an ethnic Jesus in Like a Prayer.
Cover story was, by twisting the Easter story into modern terminology and themes, it reached out to a new generation, but many didn’t see it that way. Banned briefly by the BBC for being sacrilegious, Christian and Jewish orders despised the album alike, and the musical was banned in South Africa and Hungary.
Such was the narrative, focussing on Judas rather than Jesus, his fears the compassionate movement had become a cult, Jesus’s declarations being besmirched by his followers, and this was a dangerous game which would attract the attention of the Romans, not forgoing it was condoning the common assumption Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, it might seem an unusual choice for the Wharf Theatre in Devizes. Yet, if anything, the degrading in offensiveness of Jesus Christ Superstar, is symbolic of how far we’ve progressed and become more accepting towards biblical adaptations and ret-cons.
After all Monty Python’s Life of Brian was only eight short years away, and today we live in a world where Homer Simpson prays for doughnuts, Trey Parker and Matt Stone depict Jesus in a boxing match with Satan or else hosting a call-in chat show called “Jesus and Pals,” and even locally where The Boot Hill All Stars sing a song about a “tiny Jesus” crucified on a hot cross bun!
For extreme retroactive continuity of the character of Judas, though, I’d highly recommend the self-published series by author Roy Bright, whereby, punished by God with immortality and banished to Earth, Judas rights his wrong by becoming a super-heroic, Hollywood-fashioned action hero!
Still, the revival of the controversial musical is trending, which through the aforementioned hullabaloo, took best part of decade to alter from rock opera album to the stage in London, and only because of its success in the USA. A new production was staged at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in Ontario, in 2011, and by the 45th anniversary of its run, on Broadway, it returned to London at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
Whether you were intrigued or outraged at the time, or if like me, too young to form an opinion further than the amusing notion of Jesus’s nad-sack caught in a dustbin lid, to see it now might cast a different perspective on the synopsis than how it was perceived at the time, and you can do exactly that, a stone throw away.
A rescheduled performance from last year, The Really Useful Group Ltd presents Jesus Christ Superstar at Devizes Wharf Theatre from Friday 10th to Saturday 18th September. The strapline runs, Jesus must be stopped…. which is tricky to say the least, I mean, on a Yamaha and all!
It will, at last, be open to a full house, after restrictions have reduced capacity of our lovely theatre, and Devizine wishes it well. “It has been a long hard wait,” expresses publicity manager Karen, “as we were due to stage this just days after the first lockdown was announced.” And further to this, plans are ahead for the Christmas panto, Dick Whittington, with auditions on Wednesday next week, 18th August.
The box office is also open for the adaption of The Navy Lark, a classic radio comedy which originally featured Leslie Phillips, Dennis Price, Ronnie Barker and Jon Pertwee, on 2nd October, and Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show on the 16th.
The end of October sees an hilarious farce play, based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, dubbed ‘the worst singer in the world’ in 1940s New York, running from 25th to the 30th of October, and a one-off on the 16th November, Dan Clews portrays Paul Simon in The Paul Simon Story.
Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.
Despite the gloomy pushback to the 19th July for step four of the roadmap to reopen venues, government announced plans to pilot test live theatrical performances with increased capacities, as it has already done for music festivals and sports events.
While this will delight larger city venues, our Wharf Theatre in Devizes must continue with a limited socially distanced capacity for its reopening performance of The Brothers Grimm. All the more reason to book early for this delightful sounding family-orientated presentation!
Collected Grimm Tales runs from Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th July, with doors opening at 7.30pm. It’s adapted by Carol Ann Duffy of the Young Vic Company, dramatized by Tim Supple and directed by Debby Wilkinson.
In this acclaimed adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and more are bought to life by a small adult cast using a physical and non-natural style of performance. It will take you on a journey into the world of imagination, as you discover the elusive paths that wind through the dark woods of fairy tales and invite you to experience again the living power of theatre.
Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.
Have you any young budding actors in your family? Drama kings and queens?! You might like to know Devizes Wharf Theatre have just launched a Youth Theatre. See I could have done with this when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, as I liked to act. Okay, you got me, that was act the fool. I’d think myself lucky if I got the rear-end role of the pantomime horse!
In the past, The Wharf Theatre has produced some amazing youth productions, if you remember the hugely successful Legally Blonde Junior in the summer of 2019, for example.
“We have long felt and recognised that to safeguard the future of the world of theatre it is vital to inspire and encourage the next generation and have been working, behind the scenes, to create a group especially dedicated to them,” they say, announcing two youth theatre directors now in a position to officially launch The Wharf Youth Theatre, ready for September. Here are the details:
Senior Actors Company
Friday 6-8pm. Sept 24th – Oct 22nd/Nov 5th – Dec 3rd
For school years 10-13 (as of September ‘21)
This group will be led by Lou Cox. Lou’s career highlights include theatre tours, The Edinburgh Festival, singing professionally at Glastonbury festival and stand-up comedy. Lou is now a freelance drama teacher at various schools in the area and is a LAMDA examiner. She also directs and has recently started exciting projects with Barnardo’s adoption agency, using drama as a training tool for adoptive parents and a refugee charity in Swindon.
This Company bridges the gap between school drama offering you further practitioner knowledge, a chance to develop your performance skills and many opportunities to perform in our very own theatre. It is a chance to work with like-minded people once a week who share the same passion for drama. You will explore theatre through the ages, engage in practitioner acting theories, work with text and devise your own work. There will be opportunities for students to compete in performance festivals, perform a live play to a paid audience and most importantly have fun!
10-week term £90. (Concessionary places available – please contact; firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you have any questions, please feel free to email Lou at: email@example.com
Junior Actors Company
Thursdays 4.30-6pm Sept 23rd – Oct 21st/Nov 4th – Dec 2nd
This group is for school years 6-9 (as of September ‘21)
This group will be led by Lucia Pupilli. Lucia studied at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and has worked professionally in various theatre and film productions including ‘White collar hooligans’ directed by Paul Tanter in Rio de Janeiro and ‘His and Hers’ directed by Lisa Spirling at The Egg theatre in Bath. Lucia has performed in clubs and restaurants as a cabaret singer and has also worked as a Primary School teacher for five years in Wiltshire. She founded ‘Music with Lucia’ teaching instrumental lessons on Piano, Flute and Voice and, in addition, enjoys performing with ‘The Invitation Theatre Company’ and The Fulltone Orchestra.
10-week term £75. (Concessionary places available – please contact:firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you have any questions, please feel free to email Lucia at:
Bookings for Autumn Term Opening Soon
In order to book please find details of the membership system on their website: wharftheatre.co.uk
Look under ‘get involved’ and click on ‘wharf youth theatre’
The concentration will be on fun at the junior actor’s school workshops, building confidence and gaining skills through drama, games and improvisations. They’ll be rehearsing and performing scenes from plays and devising their own. The aim is to put on an annual show as they progress.
The workshops are not only an opportunity to develop acting and drama skills but also to make friends and become confident young adults. The Wharf encourage all children to reach their full potential in a safe and inclusive environment.
In addition to the fuller workshops of these new youth companies, the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities. Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all.
Senior Actors with Lou
Wednesday July 28th 10am-1pm
Wednesday August 11th 10am-1pm
Junior Actors with Lucia
Wednesday August 4th 2-5pm
Wednesday August 11th 2-5pm.
Each 3-hour workshop costs £15.
Bookings can be made on Ticketsource via their website wharftheatre.co.uk . Look under ‘get involved’ and click on ‘wharf youth theatre.’ Places are limited but they will be operating a wait list system if groups are full.
Me? I’m passed it now, I’m afraid, but I’ll always have my moment in the spotlight, my Shakin’ Stevens impression on my cub scout pack-holiday. You had to have been there…..or not!
The struggle is real; the theatre world in general is facing many issues and they lit their exteriors and foyers up in a red alert tone. Devizes beloved The Wharf Theatre joined forces again with fellow venues and took part in the Light It in Red campaign. They say, “the message this year is one of hope and support and we are using the universal symbol of the heart with the message; We’re still beating.”
Anyone passing The Wharf next week will note a series of posters created specially to celebrate this campaign, but they also have some exciting news. Subject to government guidelines eight shows are in pre-production and the scheduled dates are:
JULY: Collected Grimm Tales
SEPTEMBER: Jesus Christ Superstar
OCTOBER: The Navy Lark; The Tommy Cooper Story; Glorious (subject to rights)
NOVEMBER: The Paul Simon Story
DECEMBER: Dick Whittington
JANUARY: My Mother Said I Never Should
Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website or, when open, at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. Whilst restrictions remain in place please continue to refer to their website for the latest details or and don’t follow on Instagram and Twitter.
In the meantime, there’s still a few places left for the on-line masterclass with West End star Luke Bayer on Thursday 25th March 7pm – 8pm. Would you like to be able to spend an hour with the Star of Jamie the Musical, learn a routine from the show and take part in a Q&A afterwards? Tickets can be purchased from TicketSource – see website for further details.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement Devizes’ Wharf Theatre has been forced to postpone their production of Adam and the Gurglewink which was due to open later this month. They have now rescheduled the show for the 18th and 19th December.
Suitable for adults and children this delightful and original pre-Christmas show tells the story of Adam, played by Karl Montgomery-Williams, who is planning to run away when he stumbles across The Gurglewink, a childhood toy who has come to life in the attic. Reality blurs as Adam is whisked away to meet Rainbow girl who challenges him to a dangerous quest to travel to the end of the rainbow for a cup of magical golden dust.. Rainbow Towns survival depends on Adams ability to keep going…..
In addition the December production of The Grimm Tales has been postponed to the New Year and they will be contacting customers to arrange transfer of tickets. Please continue to monitor the website for the latest details.
The Wharf were delighted to have been awarded the COVID-19 industry standard ‘Good to Go’ certification by Visit England and they are therefore hugely disappointed to have to re-schedule shows.
However they remain determined to re-open as soon as possible and send strength and solidarity to everyone across the industry who is working tirelessly to bring theatre back. Finally they want to thank the amazing community for your continued support.
30 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
Whilst social distancing restrictions remain in place please continue to refer to the website for the latest details.
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!
Monday 21st – Saturday 26th October sees the next Wharf Theatre production, Living Together, by Alan Ayckbourn and directed by Mervyn Harrowven.
When the Norman Conquests (named after the plays leading character, assistant librarian Norman, as opposed to the Kings William and Harold!) burst onto the theatre-going public in the early 1970s, they were a revelation. Here was domestic comedy that spoke to everyone; intelligent, well-observed and extremely funny. Today they are regarded as possibly Ayckbourn’s most ingeniously constructed set of plays.
The second in the trilogy, which features the same characters in the same house during the same weekend, Living Together takes place in the living room. Here we are introduced to incorrigible womaniser, Norman, his wife’s family and a vet.
Certain liaisons have been arranged but when plans change, and Norman drowns his sorrows in a bottle, the scene is set for the testing of married relationships and the comic dissection of middle-class morality.
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. Tickets for this year’s panto, Cinderella are being snapped up, so get in quick!