The best of going out: by staying in

Handpicked arts, theatre, music and entertainment online courtesy of Wells Maltings director, Simon Daykin.

I hope everyone is keeping safe and well.

Our lockdown programmes are now in full swing once again, with a very lovely Short and Flashy short story and flash fiction Zoom this week, and the return of our rock and pop quiz and a popular open mic classical concert next week. Head on over to our Zoom page for more detail.

To keep your minds and souls further stimulated, entertained and generally tickled, here’s this week grab-bag of gorgeous goodies, giving you a wide window to the world of great things in lockdown. I hope you enjoy my selection this week – more next.


Tuba Smarties

The tradition established in last year’s lockdown of musicians coming together virtually to play together continues, and we are so glad of that. Four tuba players, led by Marc Mollitor, whose dayjob is with military bands in Luxembourg, have arranged Ennio Morricone’s beautiful Gabriel’s Oboe, from the soundtrack of The Mission – the result is just what the doctor ordered in these confused times. 3 minutes 11 seconds of pure delight. You’ll never see the tuba in the same way again.



Fire in the Hole!

One of the most innovative, eccentric and downright brilliant theatre directors I have ever worked with is John Nicholson of Peepolykus. As sea shanties trend on social media (read on), here come the supremely silly seadogs of Le Navet Bete, with their version of the swashbuckling classic Treasure Island, directed by the aforementioned Mr Nicholson, captured live at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre. Set sail on the Jolly Todger and expect the bizarre – do you remember a glitzy gameshow contest in Robert Louis Stevenson’s original…?



Into the Blue

Now here’s a fascinating and innovative take on the idea of immersive theatre – quite literally. Swimming Home is a 35-minute experience created by Silvia Mercuriali, a piece of theatre you create yourself in your own bathroom, wearing goggles and headphones, following instructions. It captures our primordial fascination with water, the bliss of floating, and the fear of drowning, and the connection we all have with the sea in our native blood. It sounds strange, but it’s quite an experience, and highly recommended.



The Lure of the Shanty

Sea shanties need no introduction for any of us here, and the traditions of these poignant working songs from the sea are embedded in our local culture. Now they are the latest social media sensation, mainly through the Tik Tok adventures of a young Scot called Nathan Evans. His rendition of The Wellerman went truly viral, and brought the shanty to another new, younger and tech-savvy audience. Have a listen to the BBC interview with him, uncovering his own love of them, and why so many have embraced the call of the sea through song.


For us, of course, the fascination was always there, and there will always be room for shanty singing at Wells Maltings. Here’s something I shared at the very start of the first lockdown back in early April, from Maltings regulars Sheringham Shantymen. Not a traditional shanty, but a reworking of an old Bob Dylan track Favela Girls. Enjoy once more.



Keeping the Faith

Whatever your views on social media, it can be a very rich seam when it comes to culture and creativity, even if it is homemade and the camera angles and quality leave a lot be desired sometimes. Enter young dancer, choreographer and self-proclaimed Northern Soul girl, Levanna Mclean. Not only is she a joy to watch, with her twists and shuffles straight from an all-nighter at the Wigan Casino c1974, but her celebration of the music and energy of Northern Soul is magnificent. Here’s one of her shuffles, but do check her channel on YouTube. Get on your baggies, your Sherman shirts, and get that talcum powder on the floor. As Levanna herself says, music is our freedom.



That’s all for now. Another great selection next week. Stay safe and well everyone.


See previous Lockdown Lowdown Listings here:






Our Lockdown Zoom Programme