Touring – reviewed at The Lowry, Salford
Guest reviewer: Daniel Shipman
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads is a one-man show which tells the story of Martin, an 18-year-old a person with a mental health problem who is obsessed with David Bowie. Written and directed by Adrian Berry, the show is liberally sprinkled with Bowie’s music, lyrics and related trivia. There is obviously a lot of love for Bowie in the writing, and this is shared by the audience.
The show attempts to address a plethora of issues, and this is not always to its benefit. On top of his mental issues, social outsider status, and Bowie obsession, Martin has an alcoholic mother and his father left when he was two. The show soon begins to strain under the weight of its protagonist’s many misfortunes.
The plot revolves around a trip to London on Martin’s 18th birthday to visit several locations connected to his idol, such as his primary school and his first home. This leads to numerous situations which try and say something about each of the show’s many themes.
One example is when Martin falls asleep in Bowie’s childhood bedroom, having paid the current resident (who is seemingly unaware that he lives in David Bowie’s old home) £8 to browse the house unaccompanied. The show has some great moments which hint at what it could have been: an in-depth look at the nature of idols. This was not one of them.
Martin’s mental issues aren’t all detailed in the writing, and this raises problems. He certainly has an eating disorder but there are also a couple of mentions of self-harm, which seem to serve no purpose other than showing that the character is troubled. This lack of sensitivity in dealing with a topic as delicate as mental health really affects how enjoyable a piece of theatre this can be.
This is not to say that the show is all bad. As the sole performer, Alex Walton carries the show from what could have been a disaster into a passable evening. He does a stellar job of keeping the energy up and engaging the audience throughout the show.
There were even a handful of people who got to their feet during Walton’s bows, which suggests that some audience members enjoyed the show a lot more than I did.