David Bowie & Me: Parallel Lives

May 19 2024 | By More

★★★★☆       Hilarious reflections

Traverse: Thu 16 – Sat 18 Apr 2024
Review by Allan Wilson

Gilded Balloon’s presentation of Jack Docherty in David Bowie & Me: Parallel Lives takes a 1997 interview on Docherty’s TV chat show with his teenage hero, David Bowie as a starting point for some hilarious reflections on a childhood growing up in 1970s Edinburgh.

The show proved to be very popular during the 2023 Fringe and is now touring Scotland.

Docherty made his comedy debut on the 1980 Fringe in 1980 as a member of The Bodgers, which led to a radio and television career in writing, performing and production for shows such as Radio Active, Alas Smith and Jones, and Absolutely. When Channel 5 launched in 1997, they invited him to present his own show, and more recently he has found a new audience with his portrayal of Chief Cameron Miekelson in BBC Scotland’s Scot Squad.

Jack Dochert in Bowie and Me

David Bowie & Me: Parallel Lives focuses largely on Docherty’s two teenage obsessions: David Bowie and his schoolboy ‘crush’, Eleanor.

He first sees Bowie on one of the rare Thursday evenings when his angry grandpa doesn’t visit and he is able to watch to watch Top of the Pops – with David Bowie performing Starman. Immediately smitten, he persuades his mother to make a ‘Bowie’ cape for him to wear in a school performance, only to realise, to his embarrassment, that he cannot sing.

As is often the case with teen crushes, Eleanor doesn’t share Docherty’s feelings and barely acknowledges him. Until he discovers she shares his passion for Bowie and is desperately trying to find a rare Bowie picture card.

Sensing an opportunity to connect with Eleanor, he manages to secure the desired card through illicit means and presents it to her. She invites him to accompany her to a forthcoming Bowie concert in Edinburgh, where Docherty is crushed to find that Eleanor is already in a more than close relationship with the school bully – but he still loves the concert.

ironic cynic

By 1997, the teenage fan-boy Docherty has died, to be replaced by an ironic cynic. He gets over his crush on Eleanor, still loves Bowie, but is unhappy hosting a chat show. When his producer asks if there is anything that can be done to cheer him up, he instantly replies – “Get Bowie!” Which happens and, if Docherty is to be believed, is followed by the pair hanging out in the dressing room for two hours with Bowie reluctant leaving with the parting words, “Keep it real, Jack. Keep it true!”

Docherty reflects briefly on the continuing importance of Bowie’s music in his life; and his death from liver cancer in 2016. He talks about artists and fans leading parallel lives that can occasionally intersect, hinting that he has had occasional liver pain, though he dismisses the idea of cancer.

For much of the performance, still images and video clips of Bowie and Docherty are projected on a screen at the back of the stage, bringing back memories from the 70s and later decades.

Docherty is a superb storyteller, with the ability to hold the attention of the audience, with occasional mis-directions and later clarifications of the true story.

Running time: One hour and 15 minutes (no interval).
Traverse, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED.
Thurs 16 – Sat 18 May 2024
Evenings: 7.30pm (Trav 1).
Tickets and details: Book here. (Run ended).

David Bowie & Me: Parallel Lives on tour:

24th May 2024 – Inverness, Eden Court: Book here.
14th June – Perth, Perth Theatre: Book here.

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