Can you hear me Major Tom? is a work of genius…or several who have given their own perspective on the legend that is David Bowie. The idea is an original one that Mark Wheeller had just after Bowie’s passing - to deliver a documentary play using the words of fans. He put out feelers and my name was put forward. But from that initial idea, it has grown and ch-ch-changed. Last night I was blessed with seeing the second reincarnation of the show. It was first staged two years ago with five fans juxtaposed to a person who knew Bowie. That idea is still the key theme but last night’s version feels very different from the one you may have seen two years ago. It is a very emotional piece. It starts with everyone hearing that dreadful news on 10th January 2016, but that isn’t to say there are moments of laughter throughout the play, with honest, and at times, raw feelings on how fans felt on how David Bowie has impacted their lives.
The young people playing the roles were fantastic, giving the audience a vivid picture of each person’s experience with almost no stage props whatsoever. Isobel Atkins played me and she did a wonderful job of portraying my feelings and thoughts on how much I love David Bowie. Andy Jones who is one of the brilliant minds behind David Bowie Glamour Magazine had his story told for the first time which was a very emotional one. Along with Helen Green who is the amazing artist for DBG, these are two fresh stories from the original version. The other fans include myself, who blogs about Bowie as well as offering honest theatre and gig reviews; Mark Wheeller, an inspired playwright, who wrote and directed this piece; Wendy Faulkner (Wendy Woo) who many will know as the organiser of the Bowie festival at Beckenham each year and works tirelessly to raise funds to save the bandstand. Finally, there is Charlie Fowler, also known as David Live, one of the best Bowie tributes in the world. We were lucky enough to have him open the show with four Bowie songs. He really is an exceptional singer and it is obvious he is a Bowie fan from the emotions in his performance. Each ‘fan’ gives their own and very personal perspective of their love of Bowie as well as how they felt when they heard the news.
These six fans are juxtaposed against someone who knew him in real life. Keith Christmas is that someone and knew Bowie in the early days of the Arts Lab and was even headlining with Bowie as the support act. It was very interesting for fans to hear that he never got any payments for playing on David Bowie’s Space Oddity album and initially no credit although that was rectified later. Bowie also contacted him again to tour with him for Diamond Dogs asking if he can play electric guitar. Keith went along but in his own words admits he is a ‘shit’ electric guitar player so they met up but alas Keith didn’t get to tour. The imagination and delivery of performance of the young people telling the story is just brilliant and I really love how it goes back to basics with no obvious props other than a few Bowie record covers…and a tartan scarf to tell people that I initially loved the Bay City Rollers before discovering Bowie.
This piece is so original and thought provoking and takes you through an emotional roller coaster. I personally feel very proud that I have been involved with this. It is brilliant – but don’t take my word for it – take the standing ovation from the audience. If you are a Bowie fan you cannot miss this.