Theatre Review: FROM IBIZA TO THE NORFOLK BROADS – The Lowry, Salford


Harrowing and emotional, FROM IBIZA TO THE NORFOLK BROADS offers an insightful look into how our idols shape and guide our lives

Dark and unsettling at times, FROM IBIZA TO THE NORFOLK BROADS tells the story of Martin, an eighteen year old boy who attempts to reconnect with his estranged father through the music and life of David Bowie. However, this is by no means a tribute to Bowie, but is instead an insightful look into how our idols guide us and shape our lives.

Those inevitable Bowie fans in the audience might be disappointed by the lack of his music utilised in the show, as this is by no means a celebration of Bowie himself, but instead the music legend is used as a plot and character device, and this is done remarkably well. As Martin travels through London, snippets of Bowie’s life are shown through photos and interviews with the star, but the story is not about him.

Alex Walton performs this one-man show, taking on several different characters throughout the piece, but most notably Martin, the isolated teenager plagued with mental health issues and eating disorders. At first, Walton’s portrayal of Martin seems a little young for an eighteen year old, but as the story progresses it becomes apparent that this is a calculated acting choice, rather than an underestimated portrayal of teen life. As the audience learns about Martin, it is understandable that he would be immature, antisocial and somewhat irritating. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to connect with Martin as Walton gives an astonishingly emotional and energetic performance. Walton also plays many of the other characters throughout the story, snapping between them in a way that is both distinctive and effortless. It was incredibly impressive, and Walton received a well-deserved standing ovation.

The play is also incredibly skillful in its portrayal of mental health. Writer and director Adrian Berry has found a way to depict Martin’s issues in a way that is sensitive, convincing and harrowing. Berry has not shied away from the topic in any sense, and a panic attack scene midway through the story made for particularly uncomfortable viewing, yet was oddly captivating. The lone actor and barren staging enhanced Martin’s loneliness and isolation, and the story is cleverly and smoothly woven together amidst snippets of Bowie. There are deeply emotional moments throughout, with a few scraps of dark humour, which all comes together to make the audience feel drained and disoriented, but in the best way.

Overall, FROM IBIZA TO THE NORFOLK BROADS is harrowing and emotional, with few moments of joy or humour. It is an astonishing example of acting, and cleverly staged and directed, and is well worth seeing if you get the chance.

4 out of 5 stars

FROM IBIZA TO THE NORFOLK BROADS played at The Lowry on 17 January 2018.