What I Heard About The World is the latest piece from Third Angel and Mala Voadora. Third Angel’s previous work has tended to blur the line between theatre and performance art and this combination is again visible in this new play is about the way we experience and interpret the world around us but also how we understand the wider world that we haven’t experienced through the distilled facts and stories provided by the media and others.
This is essentially a series of vignettes acted out in what appears to be a standard blokish flat. There is quite a lot of music through the piece, one of the cast regularly picking up a guitar to provide incidental music or illustrative songs around the action. There is shouting and there is silliness – the suggestion of solving the catastrophe of rising sea levels by having everyone drink a litre of seawater everyday leaving one cast member wretching after attempting it – but although much of the piece is written with tongue-in-cheek, there are also some serious subjects covered here – human trafficking, our indifference to tragedy in Africa, the realities of war and the Korean couple who ignored their real child to look after their online child.
The closing scene provides a particularly effective representation of the meaningless bloodshed at a massacre (juxtaposed with the general who ordered it singing Morris Albert’s Feelings at a karaoke bar), but as the play concludes there is the slight feeling that we haven’t really gone anywhere. There isn’t really a thread that ties everything that we’ve seen together into some kind of point. Perhaps to do so though would be trite though – the world is not a place where things tie together neatly; it’s just a place where things happen – some connected, some not.
The only attempt at a conclusion is that when we try to pigeonhole other people or reduce a country or an event to a few facts about it, we don’t get anywhere close to describing the fullness of the reality. Perhaps a little obvious but reducing to stereotypes is certainly something that we all do, as demonstrated by the description of Korea as the “repository for the world’s weirdness”, the distant land where everyone’s ridiculous.
If you are expecting to receive some profound insight about the way things are, this is not it, but as a telling of a selection of stories from around the world, this is nonetheless an entertaining piece and performed with with sensitivity and humour.