Fringe review: Thunderstruck

Thunderstruck is a beautifully told story about a small boy who falls in love with the bagpipes just as the world-famous piper and bin man Gordon Duncan is pushing the boundaries of pipe music. ★★★★

Mar 03, 2020, updated Mar 03, 2020

The many talents of Scottish actor, piper and playwright David Colvin are put to the test in his autobiographical one-man show Thunderstruck, playing in the Garden of Unearthly Delights.

Named after the famous AC/DC song, this play with music crosses musical genres and features more than one bagpipe tune.

It’s an incredibly heartwarming and, at times, deeply sad show. The work, which has won a stack of awards at the Edinburgh Fringe and most recently at the Perth Fringe, traces Colvin’s journey from boy to young man playing the pipes in Fife, Scotland.

It charts his relationship with music and his struggles with bullying as he and his pipe band make their way through a steady stream of Scottish bagpipe competitions. Interwoven with his own story is the tragic tale of pipe genius and bin cleaner Gordon Duncan.

The story is rich with sentiment and filled with quirky characters, whom Colvin warmly embodies.

There are some beautiful moments where the writer and actor has the audience in the palm of his hands, but the inclusion of audience participation during the hour-long performance seems to dissipate this momentum.

Thunderstruck is presented on a minimal set, with a stool, a handful of props and the presence of a four-piece band taking Colvin from scene to scene. Lighting is also cleverly crafted to highlight changes in place and character.

In all, it’s a touching tribute to the pipes.

Thunderstruck is being presented in The Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 15.

See more Fringe and Festival stories and reviews here.

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