It’s a God-awful small affair

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Adrian Berry
Marlowe Studio
10th February 2017

As someone who cried for 24 hours when David Bowie left us, on hearing of a production entitled From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads, I was dancing in the street all the way to the theatre…only to be hugely disappointed. Adrian Berry’s play centres around a teenager (Martin), whose absent father and alcoholic mother mean that his obsession with David Bowie becomes his coping mechanism. The one man show, starring Alex Walton, features cliche multi-rolling, hyperbolic acting, and stock images lazily projected onto a backdrop. The piece lacks strength aesthetically, but also has a great deficiency in focus within the plot. Eating disorders, suicide, and celebrity obsession are just a few of the topics Berry attempts to cover during the fleeting 60 minutes, which unfortunately does not allow for a full exploration of topic, and has an overall disengaging effect.

Berry has a way with words that provides the play with some merit. Bowie lyrics are cleverly sprinkled among the dialogue with an air of subtlety that generates pleasure from the dedicated Bowie fans in the audience. However, the over exaggerated acting on Walton’s part totally diminishes the power of the text itself. The majority of the performance is over-acted, with stereotypical and unrealistic physicality being the only indicator of a change in character. Despite the fact that Berry’s writing deals with taboo subjects such as mental illness in a raw and ‘to the point’ manner, the falsity of Walton’s acting enforces a sense of disconnect, and meant that I was unable to experience an emotional response, even in moments of attempted sentimental intimacy.

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads is a mix up of a multitude of motives, and the result is an underwhelming quality of performance that is a disheartening portrayal of David Bowie’s lasting legacy that I don’t doubt would have Mr Stardust himself turning in his grave.

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