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An exciting, if not dazzlingly original script, a unique and intriguing design, and a stand-out feature performance.
The play follows Martin, a young man with an eating disorder and more than a few social challenges, on his eighteenth birthday. After receiving a mysterious, treasure map-like drawing in a letter from his long-gone father, Martin sets out to London in search of him. Like his father, Martin is obsessed with David Bowie, and his journey leads him through a mini-tour of important places in Bowie’s life; his school, his boyhood home, the studio where he recorded Hunky Dory, and so on. The script is simple, with only a handful of characters and not much plot, but effectively grips the audience with strong characterisation and an intriguing inciting incident. Though it vaguely resembles the plot of the National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, From Ibiza communicates a distinctive attitude and tone, and any parallels between the two can largely be overlooked.
Alex Walton gives an excellent performance, bouncing across the stage with infectious energy and effortlessly moving from soaring ecstasy to cowering desperation in the blink of an eye. As Martin, Walton reveals a fragility and vulnerability that is rare in fringe performances, and proves himself nearly as strong in the various smaller roles he takes on. Walton is a visceral and physical performer, every movement tight and explosive. He expertly balances the narrative, and is consistently thrilling to watch. However, he could stand to tighten up his pace somewhat; at eighty minutes, the play feels like it drags a bit at the hour mark, and a more pacey delivery might help to alleviate the problem.
From Ibiza presents itself charismatically. A few pipe-frame tables are used creatively as set pieces, three small boxes serve multiple uses as the only props, and the whole thing is backlit through a thin plastic sheeting, creating a distinctive eerie glow. Sound and music are incorporated effectively, although there is much less Bowie than you might expect. Most of it that is heard is only instrumental, and never more than a brief snippet before Walton is on to the next thing.
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads is not a Bowie tribute. It’s not really even about Bowie. But it stands strong on its own merits: an exciting, if not dazzlingly original script, a unique and intriguing design, and a stand-out feature performance.