Pros: More than just a tribute to David Bowie, this play brings his music back to life and creates a whole new world around it.
Cons: On a few occasions I struggled to see small detail due to tight staging and compact seating.
This week the David Bowie musical Lazurus is preparing to open in London. At the same time, tucked away under the arches of Waterloo East Station, the strangely titled one man show that is From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads (I can only suspect some obscure Bowie reference at play) offers up its own very unique homage to Bowie in a much more low key way.
The play follows Martin, a Bowie obsessive and loner with emotional and mental health problems. On his 18th birthday he receives a letter from the absent father who left when he was young. And so begins our journey through London, exploring the symbolic locations of Bowie’s early life as, like Martin, he tried to find his place in the world.
To a backdrop of Bowie music and images, Martin (played by Alex Walton) talks and walks us through his experiences as he follows the route laid out by his father. It’s a perfect combination of writing, acting, music, sound and lighting. All production aspects work in unison to bring this story to such life that you feel you are right there with him on the streets of our capital city.
When Walton lifts up part of the simple staging standing it on its end, in your mind it is the red phone box he is in. Later the sound of water lapping against the shore, combined with the visual image of the alleyway leading to the water’s edge takes you to the Thames with him. And when Martin accidently finds himself doing karaoke we are in a pub, and Martin is every wannabe singer trying to emulate their hero.
The art of a good one man show lies in its ability to generate empathy; you have to feel something for or towards the sole occupant of the stage or they’ve lost you. In Alex Walton’s portrayal of our central character, Martin, you feel nothing but compassion, love and hope for his future as he struggles to cope with the emotions that spring from his surroundings and his search for his father.
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads is more than just an amazing homage to David Bowie, and not simply the act of a writer’s obsession. Bowie and his own outsider status is used as a conduit to explore the difficulties faced by Martin; a young man who does not fit in, who feels different and is looking for something other than what is considered normal. Martin’s journey through London is not just a physical journey but also one of personal and social discovery.
The attention to detail paid to Bowie’s life in the script ensures that fans will surely find much to love in this beautiful piece of theatre. But alongside that, and at its heart, is an exploration of what it is to feel you don’t fit in. Martin’s journey is an inspiration that essentially concludes being different is not something to be scared off.
Beyond the Bowie and theatre buffs this play is for anyone who wants to experience what a one man play should be like. This production will draw you into the world of Martin for an evening and take you on a journey that is emotional and engaging. For those who shed a tear when Bowie passed this is also a perfect nod to the man himself.
Author & Director: Adrian Berry
Producer: Makin Projects
Booking Until: 6 November 2016 then on tour throughout the UK.
Box Office: 020 7928 0060
Booking Link: http://www.waterlooeast.co.uk/from%20ibiza%20to%20the%20norfok%20broads.html