Wednesday, February 15, 2017

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads - Sunderland Stages - Review

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Sunderland Stages at the Royalty Theatre
14th Feb 2017

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads is a one man show written and directed by Adrian Berry, performed by Alex Walton and featuring the voices of Margaret Campbell (Glenda) and Rob Newman (Bowie).

This is the story of Martin - a boy with problems. His father left when he was just two years old, his mother is a chain smoking alcoholic. Martin himself is isolated, bullied, lonely and confused. He has an eating disorder and self harms - not a lot, "just enough to remind himself what it's like to feel". He is intrigued by a box in his mother's room and one day - aged 11- he picks the lock on the box and discovers a different world. The box is full of Bowie memorabilia, tickets, programmes, badges, playlists, and photographs of his father. For this lonely, misfit child it is a revelation and the birth of an obsession. From that day on he lives and breathes Bowie and dreams of his father. On his 18th birthday his mother gives him a letter that his father wrote before he left sixteen years earlier. It contains a map and an invitation to adventure. An invitation to follow his father's journey in search of their idol. Martin sets off to London on a pilgrimage to visit all the places that are significant in Bowie's early life, and believing he will finally, maybe, see his father.

Alex Walton narrates the story, introducing Martin and describing his London pilgrimage, he also plays all of the characters throughout from Martin, to the record shop owner, bus driver, barman, kebab shop server, and Martin's mother. Walton moves from character to character seamlessly, transforming with little more than a shrug from dispassionate narrator to the childlike Martin - filled with the joy of his passion for Bowie or crippled by his insecurities, or into a gruff Scottish shopkeeper, or a streetwise barman. His performance is gripping, holding the  audience and carrying us along for almost an hour and a half through the joy and pain of Martin's journey.

The story is punctuated with blasts of Bowie's music, images projected onto the backdrop, and snippets of speeches from Bowie (Newman). It's a story of how Bowie influenced and inspired two people. It is full of dreams, anguish, humour and heartache. Will Martin follow in his father's footsteps right to the end or will he become a Starman and shine? The ending is satisfyingly ambiguous. We are left to draw our own conclusions.

The UK tour of Ibiza ends on 27th Feb. You can catch the show at these venues in the north:
15 Feb: York, King's Theatre Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate
16 Feb: Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, North Yorkshire
18 Feb: Selby Town Hall SOLD OUT
21 Feb: Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre

Tickets are selling fast so I recommend booking in advance!
Information on other dates and venues can be found on the website:

This is the third show I have seen from Sunderland Stages. All three have been very different but all have been excellent, thought provoking productions. Their aim is to bring the best theatre, dance and
spoken word performances to different, unexpected and favourite venues in Sunderland; watch out for more from them in the coming year.

Denise Sparrowhawk

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