“I’m DJ-Beat-es… and I do drugs.”

Paul is a Type 1 Diabetic, and has been for 28 years.

Paul is also a DJ, and has been for about 5 months.

Both are challenging skills, a sequence of spinning multiple disks at any one time. Paul is not perfect at either. With Dia-Beat-es he hopes to cross-fade between the two in this mega-mix of sweet sweet music dedicated to the carb counting druggies* like him. Join Paul as he drops beats on the past 27 years of his drug-filled life, mixing in the highs and lows of living as a full time diabetic… and part time DJ.


Project team

Theatre Maker and Performer: Paul O’Donnell

DJ mentor: James Hunter

Designer: Abby Clarke

Lighting designer: Rhys Parker

Sound editor: Gerry Smith 

Directorial support: Jen Davis

Production manager: Tracy Croft

Technical stage manager: Elliot Mitchell

Access producer: Jessie Anand

Audience development: Louisa Sanfey

Film maker: Rachel Bunce

Co-producers: Paul O’Donnell and SJ Watkinson

Audio contributionsfrom Chris O’Donnell, Bernie O’Donnell, Laura Dobb and Jennifer Upton

The show brings together a unique blend of diabetic anthems such as Lighthouse Family’s High, Shanks and Bigfoot’s Sweet Like Chocolate and The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams alongside Paul’s personal account of living with this incurable condition. Through this light hearted and joyous remix, Paul wants to open up a conversation about how 400,000 Type 1 diabetics in the UK keep their discs spinning, without the possibility of ever pressing pause.

It’s exhausting!

UK tour 2023

1st February South Street Arts Centre, Reading

3rd February Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton

7th & 8th February Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

16th February Aberystwyth Arts Centre

25th February Lighthouse, Poole

3rd March Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester

14th March The Arts Centre, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk

15th March Harrogate Theatre

29th March – 1st April Camden Peoples’ Theatre, London


Paul is an Associate Artist at Birmingham REP and Theatre Absolute who aims to expose the ‘ordinary’ in a ‘spectacular’ fashion. He is playing a crucial role in Coventry’s year as City of Culture, both as an artist, with his most ambitious performance to date set to take place in Coventry Cathedral in February 2022, and as a producer, creating opportunities for up and coming artists in the city through his role at Shoot Festival.

His widely acclaimed touring show We’ve Got Each Other, the almost entirely imagined Bon Jovi musical, is coming up to 100 performances following a hit run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018. It has toured across the UK, Spain, America and made it to Canada in March 2020, just before lockdown. In 2018, the show won BE Festival’s Audience Prize as well as Audience Prize and Best Performer Prize at FITT Festival Tarragona, Spain.

“A show that bridges comedy and a master class in theatre” – The List (on We’ve Got Each Other)

“O’Donnell is an enormously likeable deadpan presence” – Lyn Gardner, Stagedoor App (on We’ve Got Each Other)

“Pure theatrical genius” – North West End (on We’ve Got Each Other)


Following the show’s current dates, Dia-Beat-Es will be available to tour to theatre venues, unconventional spaces and informal NHS spaces with a scalable and adaptable set. Ideally, the audience will be standing so that they can dance along to the sick, sick beats, but there is flexibility.