The World Over : Buchanan Theatre, St Andrews, 17th August 2012 – as part of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Was it simply ‘The World Over’ or a far more complex ‘The World Over...again’? Watching a play you purely adored 8 months ago felt just like a melancholic catch-up with an old friend you had not seen in ages: on the surface, nothing had changed and you can just chit-chat away merrily. But in depth, everything had been drastically altered, with the amateur production beautifully growing into an ambitious spectacle fit to boldly represent St Andrews’ talented students. We are striving ever to excel, after all, and the audience was captivated by a mature portrayal of Keith Bunin’s odyssey.
The story of a relentless quest for a patch of land to call ‘home’ was garnished by a sophisticated twist, as the protagonist, Adam, the star-crossed castaway, is being finely sketched by professional actor Magnus Sinding. And while the adolescent enthusiasm gives way to ripened ambition as the character pursues the mythical ghost of his treasured kingdom Gildoray, the young cast charmingly adorns his weary travels. Having eight actors to play over fifty characters is nothing short of daunting, but vividly trying to depict a vast number of settings, ranging from pirate ship to arctic wasteland or tropical island is another challenge altogether. And somehow, it strangely works: a minimalistic set was brought to life by passionate performers.
Uncomplicated in plot, the play does put forth a courageous statement: ‘We are all of us meant to become heroes.’ As Adam is rescued by fate (and a crew of soldiers), he embarks on a valiant journey to save his war-ridden homeland, but tragically falls victim to his own crusade. The family he finds alongside tormented princess Isobel (gracefully portrayed by Rachel Tam) is cruelly torn apart, and he is simply left wandering the world over, in an attempt to set right his many wrongs. A labyrinth of symbols provides ample food for thought, as every viewer is warmly invited to explore them in depth: the rival realms of Amaranthia and Cyrillia can be associated with their Greek roots and make one ponder ‘immortality’ and ‘mastery’, while mother and son dispute them in a bloodthirsty war. And this is just a shard of the multi-faceted mythical overlay that bestows coherence upon the ample setting: all in all, it’s a sincere story about love, family and forgiveness.
Gryphons, hawks, storms, sultans, crones, lost princesses, swashbuckling adventures, castaways, prodigal sons, long-lost daughters, life, death and fulfilment all come together in a lively symphony orchestrated by director Andrew Illsley and producer Cole Matson. If contemplating human nature and lofty ideals while being entertained by a troupe of fresh talents is what you’re seeking, then this show is not to miss. And, at the end of the day, one clear fact is singled out in a sea of speculation: happiness is, indeed, worth pursuing the world over. Even for the second time around, and just as ardently.