Levison Wood has been rising in popularity over the last few years with his Channel 4 documentaries Walking the Nile, Walking the Himalayas and most recently, Walking the Americas. Fascinated with his adventures, we decided to catch his show at Buxton Opera House.
If you have seen any of Levison’s programmes yourself, you will be familiar with his courageous, if somewhat insane choice to stroll across entire continents and brave unimaginable hardship. His live show backs up the travels with more of an insight into the man himself; his background and his mentality. This fills a void left by the documentaries, where Levison focusses on the people and places that he encounters, leaving many of us to wonder what drives a 21st century Englishman into remote and dangerous parts of the world.
It soon becomes clear that Levision is one of those extremely lucky people who has known what he wanted to do since a he was a child. Aspiring to be an adventurer is probably met by most parents with a pat on the head but Levison has cracked it, starting at an early age and learning the necessary skills with a stint in the army. He looks the part too; almost like a dashing Victorian explorer which has earnt him some favour with the ladies, no doubt contributing to his success. Levison’s “go and do it approach” is inspiring, making you feel slightly embarrassed for settling for a week at Center Parcs. I was so motivated that I virtually felt like getting up out of my seat, charging out of the Opera House and boarding a plane straight to Africa. His stories about car crashes, armed gunmen and lethal critters eventually put a buffer on my enthusiasm. That and the fact that I had to get up for work the next morning to pay the mortgage.
Luckily, we don’t all have to go dashing off en masse to risk get trampled by hippos. Levison has done it for us. He has shown us there is great humility and beauty to be found, even in the most troubled parts of the world. When he talked about returning to the UK after an expedition, he revealed that he has to go through a period of adjustment; getting used to a society in which people fight over wide-screen televisions on Black Friday. It’s a sobering thought.
If you haven’t seen the television programmes, I strongly advise that you do. If you get the opportunity over the next few weeks, I also recommend going to see the show. At the Q&A session afterwards, the question on everybody’s minds was asked; “where next?” However, due to some draconian decree, Levison was unable to say. We’ll have to wait and see but I’m looking forward to following more of his adventures.
Levison’s tour continues throughout February and March 2017 and tickets are available to buy online here: ticketmaster.co.uk/levisonwood
Review by Darcus Wolfson for Explore Buxton