Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Adrian Berry: From Ibiza To The Norfolk Broads

By | Published on Thursday 13 October 2016


If you are as old as me (and possibly younger, to be fair) you might remember the first incarnation, back around the turn of the century, of Adrian Berry’s ‘From Ibiza To The Norfolk Broads’. Well, now it’s back, in a rather timely fashion, given the fact that it celebrates the life and influence of the late great David Bowie.

I put some questions to creator Adrian (aka AD of Jacksons Lane), To find out more about the show, why it’s back, and how it’s changed.

CM: Can you start by telling us what happens in the play? Whose story does it tell?
AB: It tells the tale of a boy whose father left him when he was two, and on his 18th birthday receives a message from him. The boy, Martin, has inherited his father’s obsession with David Bowie, and the note takes him on a journey to London to follow in his dad’s, and David Bowie’s, footsteps. It’s set in London and really brings the city to life with lots of music and a specially recorded voiceover by Rob Newman as Bowie!

CM: Obviously David Bowie is the inspiration for the show, but would you say this is an homage? Or does it have wider themes?
AB: It’s three stories really; the tale of a boy from a small town with some family problems, an ode to the beauty of escapism and yes, a homage to Bowie, and all the things which helped to shape him.

CM: What inspired the story?
AB: It’s 50% autobiographical and 50% fantasy. I myself am from a small Midlands town and broke out of my surroundings to escape to London, but my interest in Bowie came later. I think the capital inspired me as much as anything – I love to get lost in the back streets and I know it intimately. I always thought if I needed a career to fall back on I’d be one of those tour guides and do some kind of ‘secret London’ thing. I know some really geeky and obscure facts about London! I’m not sure I’d be a good cab driver but I think I’d easily pass The Knowledge. So yes, London is one of the big inspirations for the show.

CM: So it’s a loving portrayal of the capital?
AB: Yes, very much so. I adore this city beyond words, and I have tried to bring it back to life in the play after losing so much. Soho is disappearing, Crossrail is destroying everything we have which I value here, so if you want to remember it as it was, the show will be right up your street.

CM: Do you think one has to be a fan of Bowie to enjoy the play?
AB: There are enough in-jokes and lyrical references to keep the fans happy, but if you can relate to a good human story and have the ability to paint a picture in your mind then I’d say it’s for anyone. There is nothing so obscure that it would lose an audience member. I’d say if you like Coldplay you should stay away, not because they’re in the play, more just that I detest Coldplay. They’re the anti-Bowie!

CM: It’s been a few years now since the play was first performed.  Has the play changed in any way since then?
AB: 100%. It shares an actor, theme, title and image but that’s it. In some ways it is a sequel, but it’s a brand new work entirely. David read the original script and liked it, I hope he’d feel the same about the new one.

CM: Presumably the timing is due to Bowie’s recent death – do you think there’s been an upsurge in interest in his music and influence?
AB: It is and it isn’t. We started planning it some time ago, stopped for a while and then when he died I thought it would be impossible to do. However, we had so many people contact us to tell us to keep going that we just had to. It feels right, and a respectful distance. It still feels weird that it’s the same year as his passing. It feels light years away.

CM: What’s your favourite Bowie track?
AB: ‘Always Crashing in the Same Car’

CM: What drew you to a career in the arts? Did you always want to write and direct?
AB: At the age of 18 I stole some of my mum’s country and western records, took a one way trip to Liverpool, and accidentally ended up auditioning for a little drama school. I shouldn’t be here really. We didn’t ‘do’ theatre in my home town. But I feel I have worked so hard for all of this and I still value it every day. I have always written but did not write my first play until I was 26. I started directing as soon as I left drama school and I’ve always loved the creative process.

CM: You’re currently AD at Jackson’s Lane and you’ve worked at loads of other London venues in various capacities over the last few years – what elements are the most satisfying?
AB: Seeing audiences loving and sharing what you have produced or curated. Only just last night we had a sold out alternative circus cabaret here and I got such a thrill of seeing our building so full and buzzing on a Monday evening with 10 great artists on stage. The administration and fundraising is laborious sometimes, but you can’t have one without the other. I also love just talking to artists, supporting them, and helping them. It’s one of the biggest parts of my job and they inspire me to grow and develop alongside them whilst offering the benefit of my experience – it’s very rewarding.

CM: What’s next for ‘From Ibiza To The Norfolk Broads’ after the run in London?
AB: A huge tour to…everywhere really. As far North, East, West and South as we can go! There’s also interest from Budapest, Barcelona and Helsinki which is exciting, and maybe the New York Fringe next August. But the tour goes on until next March – it’s massive!

CM: What’s next for you?
AB: There’s this for starters which takes some management alongside my job at Jacksons Lane. We’re going to tour some circus shows, and produce a couple of new festivals. I’m off to Sweden and Finland to see work to take back to London, and will be bringing a festival over from Lapland. I’m also recording new music with my band Alberteen! I’m hoping for another BBC6 session in 2018 and maybe a new album too. I think that’s enough to keep me busy!

‘From Ibiza To The Norfolk Broads’ is on at Waterloo East Theatre from 18 Oct-16 Nov. See the venue website here for more info.

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