From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads at Waterloo East TheatreCultureTheatre
Adrian Berry’s acclaimed show returns in a nationwide UK tour, opening – appropriately – in the city in which it’s set. Previously a sell-out success at the Edinburgh Fringe, this incarnation stars the magnetic Alex Walton as a boy on a magical mission.
A celebration of Bowie’s musical genius, the play is set to a soundtrack of his other-worldly music. And the tracks echoing around the theatre are all the more haunting following the pop star’s death this year. For Martin, a boy who’s inherited his father’s obsession with Bowie, these songs are an escape from his loneliness and a promise of something altogether more exciting. As the needle settles into the groove of the new record he’s spent all of his pocket money on, and the melodies burst out, he’s transported along the sound waves to another place, far away from the stifling confines of his small suburban home town and the troubles of his own mind.
Slight and engaging, Walton is convincing as a sensitive and anxious teenager searching for meaning in the bright lights of London. He’s also a great mimic, taking on the personas of the people Martin meets along the way, from the droll but fatherly record shop owner to the reluctant, dope smoking rude boy who lives in Bowie’s old house.
Andie Scott’s set is sparse and requires the audience’s imagination to conjure the landscape – perhaps because the sound is really the focus here. A few industrial looking tables transform from bed, to shop counter, to pub stage, and more. As Martin follows his father’s clues and walks in his idol’s footsteps, digital images appear on stage. Some, like the photos of Soho, are not particularly inspiring, and the sound of rolling waves at one point is distracting rather than moving, drowning out the words. Rob Newman as Bowie’s voice, however, is a surreally clever touch.
A melodious and emotional pilgrimage peppered with lots of dark laughs, Berry’s show reminds us how important our musical heroes can be.
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads is at Waterloo Theatre from 18th October until 6th November 2016, for further information or to book visit here.