Browse reviews

FringeReview Scotland 2023


Lepus Productions

Genre: Audio Play

Venue: Royal Lyceum audio online


Low Down

Keli is a tenor horn player in a working-class brass band which is tied to a village pit via a stately home. In the course of three episodes she gets a solo turn at a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, loses her horn, loses her place in the band, tries to steal another horn, has the best and the worst day of her life – which happen to be the same day – and ends up back where she belongs, at the top of a water tower rehearsing, via a ghostly lesson in what is important in dealing with your parent.



Podcasts need two things to work. There needs to be a decent script which tells a story worthy of listening to and a sound engineer and soundscape artist who know how to wrap themselves round that story. Here – Keli has both.

The conceit, that Keli is being interviewed in a podcast about her time at the Royal Albert Hall and what happened before, during and thereafter is a clever way to introduce conflicting ideals in this music world. The host is the antithesis of a working class miner hero – someone who loves the music without having the emotional intelligence to realise which heart it comes from.

But we also need to believe in our protagonist.

As Keli, Anna Russell-Martin is spot on. There is a moment in the first episode where she challenges her podcasting  host who describes her appearance more than her soul. It doesn’t set her out as a new form of heroine, or as some cypher for all the working class women who have, at the age of 17 had to deal with misogyny, but she is sufficiently angrily confused to be an authentic voice for those she represents.

The script can feel confusing to begin with, throughout the first episode however by the second episode it begins to iron out such wrinkles before the third episode tidies it all away in an existential cupboard with some ghostly intervention. The story takes some dramatic turns as it begins to unravel and truly explore legacy and the struggle of the working class.

Having Billy Mack and James Cosmo as band leader, Brian, and the apparition of a previously famous local horn player, Willie, is a touch of genius. They add more than their voices and experience to this. Working opposite Russell-Martin they both manage to combine alongside her in scenes between them which have more than heft, they have purpose. That purpose returns to the inquisitor, our radio host played by Martin Green, author of this audio feast.

The major star here, however, is the music performed by musicians who are at the top of their Brass Band game. It is a reminder of all of the opportunities that communities had on offer for their young and their pride to ensure that days, weeks and livelihoods down a pit were rewarded with something which gave them more than a sense of economic prosperity – not that this was ever on offer. It was something which allowed them to stand tall, even when the odds were stacked sky high against them. Here we have a tremendously  impressive soundscape. It has a maelstrom of noise but with a melody and a grip on the aural challenge of keeping the vocals strong, but the background ever present.

Combined, between the script and the performances, nestled in the brass band soundscape this has a point to make and one which is proven well – this is the first Lyceum audio drama I have listened to; I am hopeful it shall not be the last.


Show Website

Lepus Productions