Orbis 188, Summer 2019

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Orbis 188 (Summer)

£5 (Overseas: £11/€14/$16); Subs: £18/4 pa (Overseas: £40/€50/$60)

Front cover artwork: ‘Key to madness’ by Kelly Marie Davidson
back cover, detail from image: https://www.artgallery.co.uk/work/293532

We like to do what it says on the can, or rather, the cover,
so contents always range far and wide, in time as well as space,
and of course, from contributors all over the world. OK, maybe
it’s just a Meeting in an Upstairs Room, with Vivienne Hanna-Artt,
Will Daunt welcomes you to dear old England, and times gone by,
Adlestrop,  and you can go back to Thira 
with Wendy Goulstone,
aim for The Starry Outer Paradise with Yuan Hongri
by Manu Mangattu). Eamonn Lynskey takes you Walking
on the Via Vittoria Colonna, Rome
but you’d be surprised where
Andrew Curtis is headed in Bang to time; maybe even more so
when Sheila Aldous reveals The Secret of Breathing. Indeed, lean in to
Kevin Griffin, 
because he’s talking Sotto Voce, revealing perhaps that
Royston Tester 
is Still in love with the bass player,
the truth about Odin and the Caterpillar
from Warren Mortimer
and what Stuart Pickford’s up to in Big Nose and Fat Man.
So, like Cat Campbell, do you know what you Want?
In the end, let Taylor Strickland
show you: @RestAndBeThankful,
there’s plenty to enjoy in

Featured Poet
Gareth Roberts (Tidelands; Weeping from the King’s Wood…;
When the words are leaving)

Poems from: Lynn Foote (Veulettes-sur-Mer); Maggie Reed (Wonderful Clowns);
K. V. Skene 
(Moonsplaining the man); Anthony Watts (Ozymandias in the Wood)

Prose from: Desiree Kendrick (Don’t Hate Me);
Lani O’Hanlon (So bright and tender); Charles Osborne (Line 13)

Translation: Pablo Dubois (Espiga: The Ear Of Wheat);
Yvonne Reddick (Firesetter;
into German, by Jutta Kaussen;
into Hungarian, by Júlia Lázár)

Past Master: Benjamin Keatinge on Konstantin Miladinov

Reviews: Maria Isakova Bennett, David Harmer, Jenny Hockey, Afric McGlinchey,
Clairr O’Connor, D. A. Prince, Andrew Taylor
and Noel Williams

Orbis 188 Contributors also include

Sheila Aldous; Cat Campbell; Andrew Curtis; Will Daunt;
Maggie Davison; Miranda Day; Linda Ford; Wendy Goulstone;
Kevin Griffin; Vivienne Hanna-Artt; Alice Harrison;
Paul Jeffcutt;
L. B. Jørgensen; Lavinia Kumar; S. W. Layzell; Chris Luck;
Eamonn Lynskey; Nancy Anne Miller; Warren Mortimer;
Robert Nisbet; 
Katherine Noone; Gabrielle O’Donovan;
Stuart Pickford; Theresa Sowerby; 
Taylor Strickland;
Royston Tester; Robin Thomas; Hongri Yuan

November 11-16

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Liverpool Playhouse


It was a dark and stormy night… back in 1816, the Year Without Summer, when Byron challenged his companions to write something to rival a German ghost story. Fruitful indeed, considering Dr Polidori’s tale of The Vampyre seems to have influenced Stoker’s Dracula. And curious that neither Byron himself nor Shelley were able to conjure anything up, while it turned out to be Mary Shelley’s claim to fame

Yes, here we are again, and yet another Gothic production, but this time, there’s a distinctly modern sensibility as Ms Shelley herself is narrating, commentating, and smashing up the Fourth Wall. Eillidh Loan whirls around the stage, hefty book clutched under her arm like a Journal, doing a splendid job, part emo teenager, part junior version of Fleabag, if rather flippant at times. One suspects that Mary Shelley, undoubtedly precocious, was altogether more serious and sophisticated.

But what an impressive set, visually stunning, which, mostly in monochrome, imbues a dream-like atmosphere. A window-lined gallery also serves at the opening as the prow of Walton’s ship in the Arctic wastes. Throughout the play, access to this level is gained by stylized, wizened trees, although being white does bedeck a cheerful hint of Christmas. The stark whiteness, nonetheless, is becomingly set off by black costumes, mostly World of Leather. However, the Monster is clad in flesh coloured long johns which emphasises his vulnerability – Michael Moreland is quite remarkable, combining stilted jerky motion with, almost literally, heart on sleeve emotions. For all his atrocious deeds, he still engages our sympathies. Likewise, Mary’s; fascinated and fearful, facing up to what it is which she in fact created.

Now I must confess never, somehow, having got round to reading the actual book although I have seen a couple of adaptations, and the film of the RSC production, but of course, all versions are different so some aspects seem new, or least, have you racking your brain. Or turning to Google… But one particularly interesting interpretation is that Mary Shelley and the brilliant young scientist Victor Frankenstein are drawn almost as two sides of the same coin, so driven and so passionate, almost as if they have collaborated in writing this epic tale. Ben Castle Gibb, obsessed, frenetic, has also met his match in the monster, both so good at portraying Father and Son, Creator and Creation, Hunter and Hunted, both doomed never to find peace.

On the other hand, Sarah Macgillivray was perhaps a little too much over the top to endow Justine with sufficient pathos while Thierry Mabonga, called upon to provide some variety as the Captain, younger brother William and old friend Henry, as the last, seemed mostly focused on the importance of being earnest. There again, Dr Frankenstein would not have been the easiest of people to deal with. Hence Natalie McCleary’s delicate turn as exasperated fiancée, Elizabeth. And Greg Powrie as the sombre, down-to-earth father, appropriately, helped to hold the whole thing together.

The purpose of this production, as announced by its heroine is to be the ultimate in horror stories, although in trying a bit too hard and a bit too loud to emphasise that, it tends to undermine questioning the morality of the experiments made by men of science. But Frankenstein is indeed an astonishing story. The eponymous doctor brought the dead to life but it was a clever young woman who animated something revolutionary, and that has proved to be the enduring stuff of legend.

Reviewed by Carole Baldock

November 11

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January 31

Open Poetry Competition 2020


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Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

A new version for Storyhouse by Glyn Maxwell

October 5-19

Storeyhouse, Chester


Reviewed for North West End: www.northwestend.co.uk


It’s the classic horror trio, Dracula, Frankenstein (ok, the monster – or is it?) and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Well, quartet then, perhaps. And maybe the most memorable. Everybody understands what is meant by a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality. So no pausing for exposition, and you’re immediately

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Tour ends in London, November 29 – February 1

October 14-19


Liverpool Playhouse


Reviewed for Writebase: https://writebase.co.uk/


‘Life is a minestrone’, the song says, as indeed is Amélie’s: rich and full of variety. But something of a mishmash. Just like this musical, much of which I found difficult to follow, the dialogue being, naturellement, in a heavy French accent (if nearer Welsh occasionally, for some strange reason). It was

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September 24-28

Little Miss Sunshine

Liverpool Playhouse

Reviewed for www.northwestend.co.uk


The American Road Trip is the stuff of legend, while dysfunctional families are hell on earth, all around the earth, mostly when in pursuit of their dreams. Put them together, in a clapped out camper van, on a more than likely futile quest, and what can possibly go wrong? And in a musical…

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Are you an aspiring travel writer?

Do you want the chance to have your work published?

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August 21-26

The Cynthia Lennon Story

Hope Street Theatre


A version of this review appears on Writebase: https://writebase.co.uk/


This girl was a fascinating, intelligent, beautiful woman, a talented artist who happened to be married to John Lennon – if ever a person could be said to ‘live in interesting times’ as the alleged Chinese curse has it, it was Cynthia Lennon.

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2019 Manchester Writing Competition

Deadline for entries: 20th September 2019



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Undercurrents invite entries: Aber Valley Arts
Festival: October 13 – 19
Theme – ‘Discovery’
Entry Fee: £3; 2 for £5. Maximum length: 48 Lines; 3500 words
Prize Money: Poetry: £75; £50; £25
Short stories: £100 £50 £30
Closing Date: Saturday 14th September, 2019
No need for an entry form,
but author’s name and contact details on a separate page to poems please
Send to: Undercurrents, Aber Valley, 15 Graig y Fedw, ABERTRIDWR, Caerffili CF83 4AQ

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