‘Words to mend wounded hearts’
Our most enduring and beloved artists weave us into their magical webs, profound, beautiful and complex. The simplicity of their threads – a string of words, a daub of colour, a harmonious chord – lends itself to layers and echoes, mystery and revelation. Such artists are The Devil’s Violin: master story teller Daniel Morden, with superb musicians, cellist Sarah Moody and violinist Oliver Wilson-Dickson. Together they tell stories that show us ourselves – if we have the wisdom to connect tales of lost princesses, grieving kings, feckless adventurers and demonic captors with our own journeys of love and loss, growth and stagnation, hope and despair.
So how do we become wise? Or brave? Or ourselves? How do we fully live even when drained, exhausted and facing death? The joy of stories lies in the timeless lessons they hold – the help we give and receive; the friends we make; the places we visit; the attitudes we cultivate. Daniel has a compelling presence, authoritative and direct. His stage presence is rooted in the authenticity of an honest life. He eschews gimmicks and stereotypes. His metaphors are rich and his delivery timed with a wonderful combination of precision and intuition. As he leads us deeper into the forest, telling stories within stories, sometimes scary, or sad, or sweet , or funny, showing us wonders, we follow joyfully, prepared to delay revelation for the pleasure of the journey. Sometimes we are left to draw our own conclusions as to just who our hero is meeting – the woman at the foot of the sheer cliff being a case in point.
As ‘Stolen’, the tale of the search for the missing princess unfolds, Sarah and Oliver complement Daniel’s words with beautifully judged melodies – sometimes telling fragments – bird song or doom-laden footsteps – with longer pieces of music. I particularly like their voice work, adding atmosphere and resonance. They never over-embellish, and the final section of the story, simply spoken with no musical accompaniment, is deeply moving – words shining out of the silence, like a candle in the darkness.
A feature of enchantment is the alteration of time. To hold an audience of all ages for two sets of over forty minutes, and have them feel that time flew by, is proof of enchantment. Kingsmead School’s Wiveliscombe audience contained many sets of friends, demonstrating the warmth and camaraderie that makes this a very special community. In years to come, old friends will turn to one another and reminisce about this evening, reliving the pleasure that comes when The Devil’s Violin comes to town with their 21st century sensibilities enhancing the ancient craft of storytelling.