Daisys Dilemmal 300dpi 


MuseItUp and amazon. Links are below. What’s it about? Back to London for this one, 1822, when Lady Daisy, sister of Tobias, Earl of Mellon, is recovering from food poisoning.Lady Daisy was one of those secondary characters who simply cried out for a place to tell her own story. So, here it is:

Lady Daisy should be ecstatic when her brother, the earl, allows Mr. John Brent to propose. She’s been plotting their marriage for two years. However, she is surprised to find herself underwhelmed and blames their distant cousin, Reuben, for unsettling her.
Reuben Longreach wonders whether the earl understands the first thing about Daisy’s nature and her need for a life with more drama than the Season allows. It’s abundantly clear to him that Daisy and John are not suited, but the minx accepts his proposal nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Daisy hatches a plan to attach Reuben to her beautiful, beleaguered Scots cousin, Elspeth. Little does she know that Elspeth is the focus of a more sinister plot that threatens Daisy too.
Will Reuben be able to thwart the forces surrounding Daisy before she is irretrievably tied to John? Will Daisy find the maturity to recognise her dilemma may be of her own making before it’s too late?

amazon UK and US or  MuseItUp or kobo


Mariah’s Marriage Mariah Fox is dedicated to being a teacher in 1822 London, but when Tobias, Earl of Mellon saves her from a charging pig, her world view is disturbed forever.

Mariahs Marriage 200x300








Bella’s Betrothal comes north to Edinburgh in 1826. Bella is fleeing scandal and an unhappy home when architect and laird, Charles Lindsay invades her room at the inn. Is he a rescuer or a danger?

An Edinburgh skyscape for Bella

An Edinburgh skyscape for Bella

Bothered and Bewildered by Gail Young at Churchhill Theatre

BOTHERED & BEWILDERED by GAIL YOUNG is a trip along the rocky road of Alzheimer’s disease. This condition, which awaits increasing numbers of us as time passes, is a complex mix of symptoms that have a uniquely devastating effect on the people caring for sufferers. Young’s script tackles a difficult issue with warmth, humour and a little of the shock that prompts relatives to accept how different the patient has become and move to the next necessary stage of care. She commendably avoids sensationalising the awful moments many of her audience members will have experienced as they struggled to comprehend what was happening to a relative in their own lives. Having seen this condition in several family members and close friends, I know I sat up with a jolt at one or two points.

VAL LENNIE shines in the lead role of Irene with a strong and occasionally courageous performance displaying the bewildering mood swings and the crippling paranoia so characteristic of the condition. Director Mike Brownsell could not have asked for more. Also rising to the challenges of the script, Lynn Cameron and Anne Mackenzie playing the ‘daughters’ were unswervingly watchable.

The play offers an alter ego for Irene in the form of Barbara Cartland. Beautifully dressed and coiffed to replicate the standard photo of that Grande Dame of romantic fiction, Bev Wright gave a sterling performance. I would have liked a touch more steel in this personification of Irene’s unreason. The principals were well supported and it’s an altogether satisfactory evening of drama from Edinburgh People’s Theatre.

Run continues Thursday and Friday 26/27 at 7.30 pm and Saturday 28th at 2.30 pm Churchhill theatre, Morningside Road (Buses 5, 11, 16, 15, 23, 27 to Holy corner. Some parking in surrounding streets)


The Iliad – Mark Thomson- Chris Hannan – Homer

The Iliad in a new version by Chris Hannan rounds off Mark Thomson’s remarkable tenure at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and is directed by Mark.

This work is based on the poem by Greek writer Homer and covers part of the Trojan Wars (they went on a long time, don’t worry about it). My companion settled happily back when the lights were dimming and the wind rose onstage. Anyone who knows the work must feel that thrill. When we visited the site of Troy, our tour guide of the 21st century advised us to take our jackets because it was a windy place.

It’s really hard for twenty-first century minds to enter into belief systems that juxtapose Gods, half-Gods and humans. It’s even harder for twenty-first century women to embrace a time when winner took all and understand that meant the armour of the defeated, but also their women – after killing their children.

Or is it? When we read the reports of war in our life-time, there’s still so much of that going on. Old men flexing waning muscles while the young men tone theirs.

Philosophy aside, Hannan and Thomson make an entertaining and dramatic stab at the text. The audience enters into the long periods of sustained effort and also the long periods of ennui while behind the scenes diplomacy goes on. The Greek singing was quite lovely in parts. Ably led by Emanuella Cole, the Goddess Hera,  as one of Paris’s rejects for that golden apple, the Gods and Goddesses fight among themselves with huge repercussions for the mortals beneath. Richard Conlon as Zeus plays out the bitter infighting of marriage, but never quite pacifies Hera. Peter Bray and Amiera Darwish give us an interesting take on Paris and Helen – ostensibly the cause of the launching of those 1,000 ships. Paris is accused of being not quite ‘all there’ and displays an alarming tendency to wander off when he loses interest.

A towering production to mark the end of Thomson’s hand on the helm.

Run continues 20 April – 14 May. Tickets here

I AM THOMAS Royal Lyceum Edinburgh and touring

I AM THOMAS is described by the company, Told By An Idiot, as  brutal comedy with songs. More than a nod in the direction of Brecht, then. The question for the audience is whether it works.

I Am Thomas is written by the company. Music is by Iain Johnstone and lyrics by Simon Armitage. Collaboration is the underpinning philosophy and it’s not the way I find the most satisfactory theatre is created. This audience member likes a clear vision – from both the script (writer) and the performance (director). Collaboration to my eye allows for too much dilution and perhaps distraction.

There are a lot of people around in this university town who know far more about blasphemy trials, appeals and the general reluctance of the Establishment to allow anything approaching common sense to rear its head in a courtroom, than I do. They will tell you about what the play missed and missed out on. I, knowing nothing about Thomas Aitkenhead before I went along, enjoyed a lot of what I did find. There were huge positives to I Am Thomas.

I enjoyed the lively music, the way the main character moved around the cast and the sheer contrast to Arthur Miller’s towering achievement so recently seen here, The Crucible. Not all of the population find their religion in Godliness. For some the definition of truth is out there in the skies, yes, but it’s physical not theological.

I still don’t understand the single white shoes and if anyone reading this can help me, please leave your comment, but I so enjoyed the pseudo sports’ commentaries. Having been along to South Morningside School’s great Shakespeare evening, I was receptive to them and might even have recognised the trench coats.

It was great to meet Hannah McPake, Edinburgh born actor returning to her roots.

Run in Edinburgfh now finished, Touring to Inverness Eden Court 12-16th April and Wilton’s theatre, London 20-30 April


THE CRUCIBLE by ARTHUR MILLER is The Royal Lyceum of Edinburgh’s flagship production to mark its 50th year. Royal Lyceum audiences have a long and mostly satisfactory relationship with Arthur Miller and this production of the Crucible will have enhanced that immeasurably.

The Crucible is a play ostensibly about witchcraft, but actually about so much that troubles any thinking person over the human condition. Religious fervour, superstition, greed, scapegoating, love, betrayal, the rule of law and the misrule of law. So much more is packed into the fabric of this work that further inklings strike one unawares.

It’s very difficult to single out individual performances, but the central love affair played out by Irene Allen and Philip Cairns as Elizabeth and John Proctor has not been bettered in my opinion. (Well, I haven’t seen it quite as often as Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it is around a lot…) Their quiet despair over where the love and trust went and why, is tangible and there can hardly have been a dry female eye in the house at the final scene.

John Dove asks a huge amount from his cast and they respond. The performances are all understated or hysterical as required by the script. The group of girls swayed by the unaccustomed attention to their views, is a terrible thing to watch. How easy it is for mass hysteria, at the time unrecognised, to influence otherwise hard-working and God-fearing (in the best sense) people. Danforth, the Deputy Governor, is unmoved by the obvious breakdown of social order caused by his lunatic questioning and blind adherence to the rigidity of words once uttered. How often do we see this polarisation between head and heart today? The cost remains high.

Run continues till 19th March, catch it!


ESCAPED ALONE by Caryl Churchill is the first production I’ve seen in The Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London.

In London for a committee meeting of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, I was able to find a free evening and what a great experience it was. The Royal Court are trying out a short menu of ‘Boards’ for after the performance, so when it’s short or you were short of time getting to the theatre, then there’s a ‘board’ of cheese, charcuterie, smoked fish, or humus to calm that rumbling tum. My companion and I shared a cheese and smoked fish selection.

But you’re wanting to know about ESCAPED ALONE, not what I had for my tea.

The play by veteran writer Caryl Churchill is directed by James Macdonald and features four actresses with impeccable cvs. Linda Bassett, Kika Markham, June Watson and Deborah Findlay. Three of them are drinking tea in a garden when the fourth peeks in and is invited in. Four tales of life in its diverse experiences unfold for around fifty minutes.

So, I’m a little conflicted. Was the play so subtle, I won’t get it until it wakens me in the night some time later, or is it simply a homage to the achievement of survival? The performances were superb. The set great, although I could have done without the flashing light border. The fourth woman also acts a narrator and steps away from the garden to perform long speeches full of apocalyptic horrors – also at times very funny. These out-takes are when the stage is kept black but a surround of flashing red light created.

ESCAPED ALONE (the quote is attributed to the Book of Job and Moby Dick) does, however, stay with you and perhaps that’s its strength. Has the woman across there murdered her husband? Does the woman behind the curtains have agoraphobia? Why are cats terrifying? What caused the terrible rage? It makes you look again at those around – and wonder.

Run continues, Royal Court  Jerwood Theatre downstairs till 12th March

THE DEVIL INSIDE Stuart Macrae and Louise Welsh

What a lot we owe Robert Louis Stevenson. The Devil Inside, a new opera by Stuart Macrae with an excellent libretto by Louise Welsh is based on his 1893 short story called The Bottle Imp. The Devil Inside is playing for two nights at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre before touring through the rest of the UK and to Toronto. It is a co-commission and co-production with Music Theatre Wales.

Macrae and Welsh have collaborated before to write two operas for Scottish Opera, Remembrance Day and Ghost Patrol. Macrae observes that the pieces have become longer and The Devil Inside is certainly a beautifully paced re-telling of this older story.

The story is about all those ways in which we can let our moral guard slip. It’s about greed, addiction and ultimately selflessness. Who among us is capable of resisting the promise of a fail-safe investment? Life, as in the Faust legend, is long, and reparation a distant issue to be dealt with as and when.

Apologies to Mr Macrae, but I’m not qualified to judge the score. Those around me who were more musically educated, seemed happy enough. It’s great to encounter so many young people in Scottish Opera audiences. Indeed the young woman next to me was there on a press ticket for an online University newspaper. Didn’t catch her name or the name of the paper, but glad to see this interest.

The libretto, on the other hand, I do feel more at home reviewing and it was good. Excellent story-telling with a straightforward beginning, middle and end on view. Lots of scope for the characters to show their inner turmoil in the drama.

A pared back set was moved around by a black-clad crew who earned their own applause among the curtain calls.

Run continues tonight, 30 Jan, at 7.15 King’s Theatre Box Office 0131 529 6000

The Weir by Conor McPherson

THE WEIR by CONOR McPHERSON, playing at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, is a tantalising web of ghost stories, Irish faery-tales and real-life misery.

In this production directed by Amanda Gaughan, a quintet of Irish actors use their soft voices to tell a series of stories that have impacted on their lives to huge effect. There’s no plot as such, but there’s a wealth of story-telling to hold the audience attentive throughout the 100 minute straight-through performance.

Jack, the died in the wool local man, tells a tale involving Faeries. Like elephants, only smaller, they have their historic routes. If you build your house on one of them then it’s the house that’s in the wrong place not the faery traveller. Finbar, who saw the gaps and made money knows that  some people, often teenagers with their overly sensitive, hormone flushed perception, can see the dead. Call it coincidence to help you sleep, but it may drive the hardest headed man out of his habitat in search of company.

Jim, the odd job labourer met a ghost who would have been buried in a particular grave for a particular reason (I won’t give the spoiler). Jim had flu and a high temperature so maybe there was no ghost. And Valerie, the blow-in with her air of rigid control, has a human story unequalled in its horror by any of the supernatural ones.

And that brings us full circle to hear just why Jack never left the country-side. Presided over by the young barman, Brendan, the group bat their stories and memories to and fro. It’s a huge pleasure to listen to. Difficult human frailty wrapped in myth without the need for protagonist and antagonist. It’s a gem of a play. I recommend it.

Box Office 0131 248 4848

The Weir Run continues till 6th February

The Crucible 18/02 – 19/03

Traverse competition

Edinburgh’s wonderful new writing theatre, the Traverse, is looking for scripts to workshop. I received this in my E-news letter.


This Week’s News:

Words, Words, Words
Submissions call

Submissions are now being invited for the latest round of Words, Words, Words, the Traverse Theatre’s extravaganza of imagination and creativity. Writers are asked to submit their work-in-progress, and the most interesting, engaging and challenging will be read by actors following a day’s rehearsal.

The work can be the seed of an idea that may grow in the future, but the emphasis is on developing work-in-progress by bringing a script to life with a company of Traverse actors and directors. Let your imagination take you where it will, but make sure to submit your work to the Traverse by Thurs 22 October via our submissions page.

There are terms and conditions, folks, so read the rules carefully and don’t find yourself on the wrong side of a date…

Fringing and Other Crafty Pursuits (3) How To Keep An Alien

Sonya Kelly’s How to Keep an Alien, directed by Gina Moxley was a great treat. Sonya is an actor struggling to dance in a fur coat and talk in an upper crust English accent while pretending to be Russian. Acting is a curious way to earn a living. The assistant stage manager, Kate from Queensland, shares her frustrations and a romance based on how they might commit suicide to get out of the contract, develops.

It becomes love. Kate is Australian and her visa is about to run out. The play then traces the path of people from different countries trying to get a resident’s visa for one of them and is richly woven with their actual day-to-day loves and insecurities.

Justin Murphy is the remainder of the cast, playing everything from Sonya’s sound track operator to the immigration official. Their rapport is evident all the way through and their comic timing spot on.

The script contains a wealth of hilarious one-liners while by no means relying on them to be funny. There’s a lot of physical and situational comedy, too. Taken all together, a wonderful afternoon. Oh, and if you want to apply for a de facto Irish visa, the dossier needs to be around four inches thick and contain EVIDENCE. Letters from friends and relatives, tickets for shows, receipts from meals out, photographs…

Run continues, Traverse 2

Fringing and other Crafty Pursuits (2)

AUSTENSIBILITY written by Alan Richardson is the 2015 offering from Fringe regulars, The Mercators.

Richardson has dramatised the main events of Jane Austen’s life as we know them and created a pleasant work of fact together with readings and dramatised snippets from her writings. At times achingly familiar, but often rendered fresh and insightful.

The cast includes a new and talented young actress playing Jane, Josie Duncan  Her portrayal was by turns sweet and waspish – much in fact, as we understand the writer to have been in life.

The Mercators are always on the look-out for new blood. They include the Scottish community Drama one-act lay festival in their yearly round, too. Rehearsed and dramatised readings are a good way for the older actor to continue without the fear of forgetting the words or drift. I recommend it.

Wardrobe mistress May Kelly has excelled. Jane’s cap and dress were instantly recognisable form the famous (and only?) portrait by her sister Cassandra. The red outfit worn by Angela Binnie instantly captured Regency excess and Lady Catherine De Berg. gets my vote as the costume of the Fringe so far and I think it’ll take quite something to surpass it.

An entertaining interlude for all Jane Austen and Regency lovers all round. If you want to continue in that vein, see my run of novels above. Like many another author, my work is richly inspired by hers. Oh, and lift one of the book flyers – you might find a freebie download for your kindle, nook, i-pad.

Run continues at Venue 11, Mayfield Salisbury church halls until Friday. 7.30pm Many buses on Minto Street, 42 & 67 to Ratcliff Terr.

Contact the Mercators at

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