The Curiouser Man

The Curiouser Man walks the road that runs between this and that, gathering things which are neither here nor there.

Each curio in his travelling bag is wrapped in a well-worn, tinkered-with tale. Using all the flair of a magician and the guile of a thief he will trade his stories for your curiosity.

By turns comic, quirky and beguiling The Curiouser Man is a solo performance in which three tales are told with theatricality and illusion.This show has audience participation, flash effects and moments of stage menace and is not suitable for children under the age of 8 years.

James Richardson was inspired by his family’s Romany/Traveller history, their oral tradition and the role that the Travelling community once performed in passing news between places and people. Such tidings might fuse together what was factual, fantastical or ‘fake’, but in an entertaining way they served to cast light on the wider, lesser-known world.



"The Devil dances in empty pockets"

“I am the temptation... but I am not the sin.” So says the Devil in a vibrant re-telling of a traditional Scottish Travellers' tale. In it an idle young lad by the name of Jack lives alone with his poor old ma and  wishes he were rich! 

Enter the Devil...

In an hour long performance that blends physical theatre, puppetry and live music it is the Devil himself (with a little help from his associate Mr Stokes) who recounts the tale of how he met Jack at the crossroads of life and offered him his enchanted purse.

A darkly humorous and devilishly thought-provoking show that explores the value of money and the nature of individual responsibility, played out with verve and comic bravado.

This show is suitable for 10 years and above.

Performed by James Richardson and Dave Oliver

Live music by Lizzie Bennet & Felicity Hollow

Puppets and costumes by James Richardson and Lisa Green

Directed by Sophie Sterckx and James Richardson

From an original story told by Duncan Williamson


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 siblings by pouring a pint glass, full of gold sovereigns, all over the kitchen table and letting the kids scramble to gather them up.

Whilst wondering where all that 'gypsy gold' went James was drawn to this old tale about wealth and trickery and, of course, the dealings of 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.