The User Friendly Theatre Company presents ‘Ducks’, celebrating the WW1 poetry of F.W. Harvey, Edinburgh


Price: Tickets £7: concessions £5: family tickets £20: available on the door or from the Fringe Box Office: Tel. 0131 226 0000


Photo of Clare Graydon-James

A musical play by Clare Graydon-James with Anne Graydon as Joy

Two sisters, who have carved out successful performing careers at opposite ends of England, join forces to present this homage to an unfairly neglected war poet.  From pub’ pianist to the first visually impaired singer to be engaged by the Royal Opera House’s outreach programme; from award winning classical and cabaret diva to an emerging playwright and songwriter: Clare Graydon-James’s life and career have inspired an ITV documentary, a play for London’s Cochrane Theatre and her nickname of “The User Friendly Soprano”.  And so “User Friendly” was adopted for the title of Anne and Clare’s company as, since 2011, the sisters have aspired to  stage innovative, inclusive and entertaining productions for all ages.

Anne Graydon is a multi-talented actress and singer, who is equally at home in every genre: from Shakespeare and Greek tragedy to panto’, musical theatre and improvised role play.  She is currently appearing as Agnes de Percy at Alnwick Castle.  Will Harvey’s beautifully evocative poetry, whether spoken or set to music by Clare, is employed to complement and comment upon the action which is set in the recent past.

‘Ducks’ is, therefore, full of nostalgia and yet explores themes that are current and universal: family relationships, guilty secrets and modern attitudes to a century old global conflict.  There are autobiographical elements too: the elderly Violet’s frustration at her lack of independence echoes that of Clare herself, as she is now a wheelchair user; the wartime history of Joy’s grandfather was based on the sisters’ own granddad, and several of Anne’s treasured collection of embroidered love letters, sent originally from The Front to the sisters’ real life grandmother, play cameo roles in the show.

As with most of Clare’s musicals, there is a message of hope and redemption in the show’s “thoughtful” narrative.  “Ducks” is named after Harvey’s best loved poem, which was prompted by a drawing on his cell wall in a German P.O.W. camp.  After its premiere in Gloucestershire, members of the F.W. Harvey society described Clare’s show as “poignantly presented”, “rare entertainment” and “amazing!”.

For more information tel. 01322 274791 or visit

“It was brilliant!” Medway Matters; “Fantastic!” The Geffrye Museum;
“Congratulations” Hon. Gen. Sec. Dickens Fellowship; “Amazing!” F.W. Harvey Society.

Level access. Braille programmes available on request


THE Memorial Room, St Patrick's Church, Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1NA

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