Elsewhere Ensemble
His Majesty, the Devil - A Play with Music
Dates: Preview 5th to 6th August
Time: 18:20 (19:40)
Price: £8.00 (£6.50)
Dates: 7th to 10th, 12th to 17th August
Times: 18:20 (19:40) Price: £9.50 (£8.00)

The Elsewhere Ensemble: artists from various disciplines, generations and cultures, sharing the belief that art should be born out of the ties which bring us closer together, reminding us of our humanity. It seeks to push the frontiers between music and theater. From New York, featuring Broadway actor MacIntyre Dixon.

A mysterious gentleman. A young terrorist. The eve preceding destruction. A game of cat and mouse begins. Wit, wisdom, foolishness and drama intertwine with violins, questioning injustice and violence in our world. A war of ideas between old and new, between generations and beliefs. A new work inspired by Dostoyevsky.

Quaker Faith and Practice

The language in which we express what we ... say is of vital importance; it both shapes and reflects our values. One result of the emphasis on plain speech by early Quakers was to challenge the class hierarchy of the day.

Quaker Women's Group, 1982;1986

Sympathy for the Devil

His Majesty, the Devil

“A play with music” is how His Majesty, The Devil is described, and indeed the original music composed by New York actor Colin Pip Dixon is an integral and vital aspect of this show. Based on the musings and philosophy found in Dostoyevsky’s novels – and possibly with a nod to the Rolling Stones – this sympathy for the devil was written by Dixon’s late mother Alexandra Devon, and gives us an affable and dishevelled Satan, who comes on the eve of a planned terrorist attack to debate with the terrorist the nature of good and evil. It’s a quirky and eccentric manifestation. MacIntyre Dixon is a shambling Wurzel Gummidge of a devil – soft hat, torn suit, bow tie – who trails an extravagantly decorated luggage trolley, and expresses a wish to do Pilates and ride a bike. The terrorist (real life son Colin Pip Dixon) is wild-eyed and fanatical, horrified by the damage to our planet and the suffering to our children that humankind has brought to the world. The music played on viola and violins is a haunting and emotional counterpoint to the dialogue of this debate, often used to underline the meaning of the words, and give us time to reflect on them. Arnaud Ghillebaert is The Shadow, the elegant, tuxedoed viola player who never speaks, is aloof from the discussion yet emotionally attuned to it. All three characters play their music as part of the interaction, and the score is subtle and evocative. We are left wondering about choice – we can create or destroy at will. But does Satan have this choice, or is he merely fulfilling a preordained and necessary role, a negative for the positive, a darkness in which the light can shine? Do good men do evil deeds through the best of intentions? Has the Devil more sympathy than man, whose deeds are so often diabolical? Very thought provoking – and very well acted.

At Venue 40 Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria St.
Aug 6th – 10th, 12-17th , at 6.20pm

Move over, Terry Pratchett's Mort, the new order is.........


Move over, Terry Pratchett’s Mort, the new order is called by His Majesty the Devil (Quaker Meeting House/Venue 40, 6:20pm), wielding chocolate covered cherries from Switzerland in an iPhone box from stage left. We like it.
It is a rare privilege to watch a grand Master of the theatre with as prolific a film and broadway history as MacIntyre Dixon in an intimate Edinburgh venue. In lesser hands, a pilates-obsessed, gluten-free chocolate cake baking, flu-jabbed Devil interpretation may have somewhat lost credibility – at very least by the time he chants “Ohm Shanti” over his sleeping victim. “Excuse me, could we have a cup of tea? It does make me feel so serene…”
The amusements of this new role aside, the sobering truth that runs through the play is that the new order, which grants the Devil this leisure, is made possible by humans – to the point where even the Devil laments “everyone is doing my work!” What follows makes for uncomfortable viewing. Worryingly, nothing is listed that the audience wouldn’t already know about. But the comfort of pilates and chocolate covered cherries most definitely help distract your average festival-goer from some gruelling truths about current life on Earth.
The young human subject of this moral delirium is played by superb violinist Colin Pip Dixon – the play’s composer. How have I made it to paragraph four without mentioning the music? It moved effortlessly from nostalgic to edgy, echoing moods, and effective in its sparseness, performed on violin by the troubled human and viola by the Devil’s shadow. This non-speaking part (by Arnaud Ghillebaert in tailcoat and bow tie) stole the show, very much in the spirit in which a Pizzaria houseband amends a dinner date – with intention, precision and a very spare silk handkerchief.
My burning question got solved at the very end of the play: Does the Devil too play strings? See for yourself.

Sarah Martin.