Of all the online shows I have seen and reviewed over the last few months, this one probably qualifies for the badge of “most odd” (although Lights Over Tesco Carpark might give it a run for its money). It is virtually impossible to categorize as it doesn’t have a plot line or characters as such. It does have a theme but as this is the whole wide world that’s a bit unfocused. There is some music, but it is definitely not a musical. There’s a vague attempt at costume for one of the performers who has a tie put on him to make a specific point. I suppose if pushed I would call it a mosaic though I’m more inclined to liken it to one of those old-fashioned quilts stitched together from scraps of material. Eventually something complete does emerge but don’t look too closely or it all seems rather incoherent.
To be fair, the show does exactly what it says on the tin as the three performers, Jorge Andrade, Alexander Kelly and Chris Thorpe relay information that they have been told, have picked up in books and newspapers or off the internet or that they’ve overheard. It’s impossible to say how much truth lies in the bizarre snippets and more fully developed sequences that are paraded before the audience; the level of research and fact verification might be anywhere between scrupulously thorough to non-existent. I did learn some intriguing stuff, e.g. why plane hijackers without a clear grasp of aviation may never make it to their chosen destination, but in effect, I felt I was watching an excessively bizarre and slightly shambolic episode of QI.
The trio are engaging enough but come across as aging student flatmates drunkenly philosophising and conjecturing how the world works – we’ve all been there! For the consistent riff that emerges is that wherever you hail from, the world is a weird place. Radio stations that only play silence, zoo donkeys painted with stripes because the owners don’t have any zebras, attempting to reduce rising sea levels by suggesting everyone in the world drinks a litre of sea water a day, couples who are more interested in virtual babies rather than real ones – all human life is here. The stories range across all continents and there is even a section set in Antarctica. If this was a book of trivia you kept in your loo to dip into whilst otherwise engaged it would probably be more than satisfactory. But as a coherent piece of theatre it is somewhat less so. Devised by the three performers it has all the hallmarks of a somewhat self-indulgent student devised piece and the whole thing needed a stronger hand to pull it into shape. I did not detect this in either the direction of Rachael Walton or the “dramaturgical support” (not even sure what that is, as distinct from a dramaturg) of Johanna Wall.
Produced as a collaboration between The Third Angel Company and Portugal’s mala voadora and filmed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012, this is one of the more longstanding examples of online internet shows which have been accessible over the last few months. Having read a few of Third Angel’s reviews for other shows, it would appear that this is not even particularly typical of their work. It seems a bit wilful to mark out your territory by putting something atypical into the public sphere as representative and I notice that their Vimeo channel has several short films the company have made which may give a better flavour of their work. Meanwhile if watching someone in a one-piece coverall being splurged by a second with a paint gun while a third bawls out a rendition of “Feelings” is your cup of tea, then this one’s for you.
What I Heard About The World is available on You Tube. Click here
To keep up with the blog and all the latest online theatre reviews please click here and choose a follow option
For my Theatre Online list (suggestions and news of newly released productions) please click here. This list is supplemented by daily updates on Twitter (@johnchapman398)