The Deacon

Edinburgh is a beautiful city, with its ancient monuments, imposing churches and symmetrical townhouses. I got to see most of it on the long walk to Stockbridge Parish Church. Though it took me far from the heart of the Fringe, the journey only added to the intense Scottish-ness of Peter D Robinson’s new musical based on the life and times of Deacon Brodie, one of Edinburgh’s best-loved historical villains.Brodie lived a double life: respectable by day, dastardly by night. His outlook was allegedly inspired by that of MacHeath from the Beggar’s Opera, and in turn inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll/Hyde duality of man. This musical pays homage to these double-men in its mode of exposition. An innkeeper tells Brodie’s tale, and slowly the tavern-dwellers get sucked into the narrative. As they act out the story, their own lives and the lives of their roles become blurred and intertwined.As the only company in this venue (other than the Church of Scotland…), Carpe Diem Productions have made the most of their artistic freedom. They fill their huge stage with probably the largest cast you’ll see in Edinburgh outside of the Tattoo. Quite often the ensemble are just milling in the background, it seems they have been used primarily for set-dressing.The high production values evident in the gorgeous costumes and mesmerising lighting were let down by fluffiness in the songs. Far too many inane ballads dragged the show to a limp in the second half, mixed metaphors in the lyrics were confusing, and the over-all lack of rhyming was jarring rather than classy.Some useful performances were led by the charming Innkeeper and his long-suffering wife, played by Duncan and Linda Robertson. Brodie’s trio of thieves had the best voices and well-developed individual characters, which is more than can be said of most in this production. I felt that the romantic leads were decidedly lacklustre. Ignoring their age difference, their voices did not work well together (his a faux-opera tenor and hers more naturally folky), and they had absolutely no sexual tension.The Deacon is a nationalist work. From the bagpipe background music as you enter the church, to the Scottish folk song performed as-is, to the sung Burns poem (what did he have to do with anything?!), to the performers’ heavy accents, this musical reeks of Auld Reekie. Which is a good thing – until you find yourself two hours in to a show without an interval and you’d do anything to avoid another folky ballad.

Reviews by James Robert Ball

Leicester Square Theatre

De Profundis

★★★★

Another Way

★★★

Solstice

★★★

The Walls

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

Nominated for MTM:UK best composer 2007, Peter D Robinson's new musical brings the notorious Deacon Brodie to life. Stevenson's inspiration for Jekyll and Hyde walks Edinburgh streets again with Carpe Diem's usual mix of powerful music and drama.

Most Popular See More

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets