Delphi Goes Bassooning – a tiny musical a solo show by Janet Swain


A few years ago, it occurred to me that the story of my relationship with the bassoon was kind of interesting. I wrote a short 5 minute play, simple, no music – just the interaction between myself and my mother, who had for some reason gone to a railway auction in 1977 and bought an old bassoon – which someone presumably had left on the train, and never claimed. She gave it to me, found me a teacher, and that was that.

Over the years, I began writing songs for the show, which I played for a few people who encouraged me to develop the idea even more.

It’s been a slow process, things remembered and forgotten, depending on what else was going on in my life – my band, the Loveys, choirs, making a living, the Festival of the Voice – all of these took up lots of my time and energy.

It was my mother who kept reminding me about Delphi. As I say in the show, perhaps she saw something in me that I did not! Delphi is actually the name of my character in The Loveys, and is named after my grandmother’s favourite lipstick, Delphi Coral by Revlon. When she died we found about fifty old lipstick containers that she’d kept in the kitchen drawer.

So what is Delphi Goes Bassooning about? On the surface it is simply about how a teenager is told to play a musical instrument she doesn’t like much. But the more I wrote and rehearsed, reflected, and pondered, the more clear were universal themes of secrecy, forgotten memories, generational legacy – the beliefs that are emotionally and culturally passed down through families.

The stories are told through nine original songs, and five characters – a stroppy 14 year old, a mother, a grandmother, a cabaret singer, and ofcourse, me! Even the bassoon gets to have an opinion.

At heart this show is a love story for my mother and my grandmother, and a tiny musical about coming out into the world as an artist.

And so ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Delphi Goes Bassooning – a tiny musical.

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