I was fourteen when one summer’s day I heard another worldly sound coming through the open window of the house next door where a friend lived. I called around and asked who the artist was? “David Bowie, Moonage Daydream from Ziggy Stardust,” came the reply. There started a personal fandom which endures to this day.
On Monday 15th January, “From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads”, written and Directed by Adrian Berry, appears at Derby Theatre as part of a national tour. One thousand three hundred and ninety- five miles apart physically, many will identify the words as being from Bowie’s “Life on Mars”. The play is a one-man show with Martin (Alex Walton) a teenage boy living in Norwich its focus, and a Bowie soundtrack. It is touring on the back of an award -winning sell out run at the Edinburgh Festival last year.
When some popular singers die there is a spasm of interest, hyperbole, and acclaim, then a more sober period of assessment follows. With a handful, their reputation grows. David Bowie falls into that category. In “The Bewlay Brothers”, the protagonist declares himself to be “Chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and caricature”. It is not a bad summation of Bowie and his work.
The artistic world is wrestling with how to pay homage to Bowie’s legacy. Tribute band tours abound, his play Lazarus has played on Broadway and in London. Like many Bowie fans, I am intrigued to see how Berry presents his story. Artistically, Bowie changed image, sound and persona many times in the 1970’s. There are many different David Bowies. Which one will Martin latch on to from his Norwich home?
Lyrically, Bowie was enigmatic. Early material was dense and obtuse ( “The Bewlay Brothers/ Cygnet Committee/ Width of a Circle”), then from “Aladdin Sane” he adopted a cut and paste method of randomly assembling words and phrases into songs. This may well leave Martin a little confused. It also leaves Berry with considerable room for manoeuvre as you can make of them what you will!
I cannot wait for Monday night at Derby, the opening night of a tour which plays across the country and finishes in London in March. Bowie has a huge fan base, and the cognoscenti will be out in force casting a critical eye on this production.
Tickets for the Derby show: https://www.derbytheatre.co.uk/ibiza-norfolk-broads
For more Bowie: