Aug 30 2022 | By More

★★★★★     Striking

Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30): Fri 19 – Mon 29 Aug 2022
Review by Yvonne Paterson

David Colvin’s internationally award-winning play Thunderstruck returns to the Edinburgh Fringe at The Scottish Storytelling Centre for the final two weeks of the Fringe.

Thunderstruck is Colvin’s story of how the life and music of the remarkable piper and composer Gordon Duncan had an effect on his life. Duncan was a modest bin man and alcoholic who’s musical compositions changed Scottish music, creating chaos amongst traditionalists and caused Colvin to question everything he was ever taught about the bagpipes.

David Colvin. Pic: Sean Defrancesco

Colvin positively enthrals in the production: bouncing from character to character, animated and engaging to watch. He is a fantastic story teller. His writing and performance effortlessly taking an emotional journey, packed with Scottish wit and the odd affectionate profanity, as he brings the characters to life, shifting between each, capturing the comedic and the emotional moments without missing a beat.

There doesn’t have to be any dialogue for you know which character Colvin is portraying. A simple shift in eye line brings seven year old David into play or a raised eyebrow and Mr Crawford the teacher is present. Putting on an intimidating stance and broad shoulders and the arrival of Big Wallace means there’s going to be trouble.

These and so many other characters are played with conviction, with humorous exchanges and hard-hitting moments between the characters as Colvin’s story, from a wee boy raising his hand in class, to his very first pipe band lesson onto his experience of participating in the world pipe band championships

Colvin’s script pays homage to the underdog of musical instruments – The bagpipes. His passion for Scottish music and the ridiculed, cat sounding, octopus looking instrument is evident, His enthusiasm is infectious; you can’t help but feel part of this production especially when, as an audience you are called on to participate. Colvin makes working the crowd look easy and is hilarious and intriguing to watch.


This is a glimpse into a world few know about, with David and his peers subjected to the alcohol infused lifestyle and it becomes a playground for bully’s such as Big Wallace.

It is during the piping competitions that Colvin encounters Duncan’s music and becomes captivated by his unique sound and his defiance of the bagpiping rules. But then is subjected to ridicule by Big Wallace for thinking so.

So is forged Colvin’s love-hate relationship with Duncan and his forward-thinking music. Although he thinks it magical and inspiring, he associates it with degradation and humiliation, finding himself on the wrong side and abandoning his beliefs as he cheers the president on when he dismisses Duncan with “If this is the future of bagpiping, then I’ll take up the fiddle” – A comment which had devastating consequences.

Adding to the tone and the mood of the performance is the fantastic live band, utilised well to underline parts of the story, reinforcing the message that music can have a powerful and sometimes blood pumping effect.

Thunderstruck is a unique and wonderful production embracing Scottish culture – The good, the bad and the loud.

Running time: One hour 15 minutes (no interval)
Scottish Storytelling Centre (Netherbow Theatre) 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR (Venue 30)
Friday 19 – Monday 29 August 2022
Daily (not Tue 23): 21:45.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Facebook: @ThunderstruckGD


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Comments (1)

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  1. Nikki MacLeod says:

    You failed to mention his piping which at the end when he actually plays Thunderstruck is brilliance personified. Also the wee trio sharing the stage with him are equally awesome and deserve huge praise.