The Curiouser Man


Would you like to trade your curiosity to hear a well-worn, tinkered-with tale?

The Curiouser Man has been gathering curios from neither here nor there
Whilst on the long road that lies between this and that:
each one a keepsake wrapped in a tale that speaks to him of something that's true.

A comically quirky and beguiling solo storytelling performance
that re-imagines traditional folk-stories with a flair for theatricality and illusion.


Who is The Curiouser Man?

The idea behind the show was conjured from James' memory of the horse-drawn ‘rag-and-bone’ man passing down his childhood street and from the Romany and Traveller history in his family. At its heart The Curiouser Man celebrates the art of oral storytelling found in the Travelling community, where news was traditionally passed between places and people. Such tidings would fuse the factual with the far-fetched and would compellingly cast light on the lesser-known world.


"I loved the stories! It was a really captivating performance and the magic effects were a lovely addition." - NRTF Promoter

"Mesmerising performance. He held the audience spellbound throughout."
- Audience member

The Curiouser Man offers a tailored show to suit those with whom he is ‘trading’:

Three-in-a-day 25 minute shows at outdoor events.

One indoor 60 minute show suitable for families.

One indoor 90 minute show suitable for adults and young people 15 years and above.




"The Devil dances in empty pockets"

From an original tale as told by Duncan Williamson.


"I am the temptation...but I am not the sin." so says the Devil in this vibrant re-imagining of an old Scottish Traveller's tale. 

A lazy young lad, by the name of Jack, lives alone with his poor old ma. He wants more out of life and wishes he could be rich. Well, one night at the old crossroads, up on Moor...


In this hour-long performance it is the Devil himself (with a little help from his associate) Mr Stokes who recounts the tale of how he offered Jack his enchanted purse and how after that how the deal 'went south'.

Jack and the Devil's Purse is a darkly humorous show that blends distinctive puppetry, engaging physical theatre and traditional live music to explore the nature of individual responsibility and the value of money.

Performed by James Richardson and Dave Oliver with live music by Lizzie Bennet 

Puppets created by James Richardson and Lisa Green



Brilliant performance. Wonderful live music. There were moments that were absolutely electrifying.

- Dan at Skipton Puppet Festival, Skipton, North Yorkshire.

One of the most original pieces of theatre I've seen. Even though I know the tale I was so wrapped up in the performance it was like I was hearing it for the first time.

- Peter at Plymouth Barbican, Plymouth, Devon.

Not seen anything like it. The blend of story-telling and performance was wonderful. So much energy and humour in it.  

- Lydia at Stainsby Folk Festival, Stainsby, Derbyshire.

 A wonderful evening, enchanting, funny, compelling and brilliantly performed.

- Jez at St Thomas Library, Exeter, Devon.



James' great-grandmother was an Irish Traveller called Ellen Cahill. When she married she settled in Mitchum, London, with a Romany man by the name of Henry Richardson. James' dad remembered how Henry used to impress him and his sisters by pouring a pint glass, full of gold sovereigns, over the kitchen table and let them scramble round to gather them all up.


Whilst wondering where that 'gypsy gold' went James was drawn to this old tale about wealth and trickery and, of course, dealing with the Devil!


'Jack and the Devil's Purse' is an old tale, as told by the late master storyteller, Duncan Williamson. Duncan was a member of the Scottish Travelling Community and by his own reckoning held over 3000 stories in his head! This unique cultural tradition of oral storytelling among Scottish Travellers goes back as long as they themselves have been travelling the roads and by-ways of Scotland, since before the 12th century.

There are many tales told about young Jack and how he manages to overcome all manner of trials and tribulations, including several in which he must pit his wits against the Devil himself. Such stories served to reinforce the notion of self-reliance and ingenuity as tools to survival among young Travellers.

In choosing 'Jack and the Devil's Purse' we sought, and gained, the kind permission of Dr. Linda Williamson to adapt Duncan's story. Linda has worked with dedication to document and publish Duncan's trove of Scottish Traveller stories; ensuring their survival and enjoyment by a wider audience.