Play recalls the lasting impact piper Gordon Duncan had on a Fife schoolboy

David Colvin
David Colvin

The lasting impact a bagpiping bin man had on a Lochgelly High school pupil can evidently be seen in a production currently showing at the Edinburgh Fringe.

David Colvin, who grew up in Ballingry, is telling the story of just that every day at Assembly Checkpoint with his play Thunderstruck.

It’s the story of piper Gordon Duncan, who had a young David mesmerised by his rendition of Thunderstruck on the pipes.

David told the Press: “I’ve been a piper since I was 10 years old and I was around the pipe band scene at the time when Gordon Duncan was doing his thing.”

A young David was mesmerised by Duncan’s rendition of Thunderstruck and the moment has stayed with him.

Having gone into a career in acting, he took on roles with the likes of Communicado and The National Theatre of Scotland – he starred in the original cast of Black Watch.

But a conversation with a fellow actor led him to this latest venture.

“I was sitting in the bar of the Globe Theatre and one actor colleague found out I play the bagpipes,” he explains.

“He showed me a video on his phone of someone playing Thunderstruck, but he wasn’t really playing Thunderstruck.

“I proceeded to school him, after a few drinks, on the real story of the real guy that tranposed rock music for the pipes.”

And it’s that story of how the traditions of bagpipe music were rocked by the Perthshire bin man, and how he changed the life of a young piper from Fife, that David has used in the play, which was first premiered at Outwith festival in Dunfermline.

From there things have been going from strength to strength.

David said: “We went to Piping Live last year and Celtic Connections, it’s worked out well.

“When we did Celtic Connections we were in the Tron in Glasgow playing to 250 people, two sell out shows.

“It was an epic event, but the first day at the Fringe we had ten people in – a big Edinburgh Fringe smack in the face. Since then our numbers have been going up and we’re building momentum, which is great.

“The play continues to do what it has always done – it surprises people.”

This week Thunderstruck won a Herald Angel Award at the Fringe.

Thunderstruck runs at Assembly Checkpoint until August 26.