Uh-oh. Maybe the joshing pirate shouldn't have told barefoot castaway Adam that nursery tale about a lost prince who grew up on an island after being deprived of his rightful kingdom. Adam, who the buccaneers consider a madman when they find him alone on an uncharted island, quickly believes the story is about him, and sets off on a journey of heroics and trials "The World Over" to reclaim his birthright.
After a four-year hiatus, Open Window Theatre has returned to the boards with a show the company hopes will fulfill its mission of offering a portal into the spirit. "World Over" comments on the company's resurrection. Founded by Sarah and Jeremy Stanbary, Open Window has taken a page from Yellow Tree Theatre in Osseo, which does high-quality work in its home in a suburban strip mall.
The troupe's new facility, where "World Over" opened Thursday, is in Salem Square Shopping Center in Inver Grove Heights. The seating is comfy, casual deck chairs. Designer Sarah D. Pierucki has created a ship mast and other suggestive set pieces for Keith Bunin's 2002 picaresque fable.
The Bible tells us that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." For Adam (Andrew Hey), his faith is the thing that not only gives him strength and wisdom as he meets mysterious and vile characters and is tested by a sultan who threatens to kill his own daughter, but it blinds him as well. His total adherence to faith ultimately threatens all he achieves.
Director Jeremy Stanbary's production is long on ambition but was not quite ready on opening night. The pacing was off. And it had the whiff of hurried student production. Some of that has to do with the play itself, an overlong work which, by design, is complicated. Eight actors play some 30 characters, which is likely to give you whiplash, even if the quick changes and segues are executed flawlessly. There's some real talent in the cast.
As Adam, Hey has the fiery eyes and endless energy of a deep believer. His Odysseus-like character never flags. If Adam doesn't seem to learn as much as he could from his experiences, chalk it up to the playwright, who seems more intent on making a faith-based point than on being true to the story.
Hey's castmates, all of whom play quadruple and quintuple roles, include Grant Hooyer as the narrator, Randy Schmeling in some authoritative roles, and Elizabeth Efteland as a fierce soldier and as a daughter. The cast is rounded out by Dawson D. Ehlke, Erika Kuhn and Abby Day, who occasionally find some humor.
Perhaps "World Over" may grow into something stronger and more cohesive during its run.
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The World Over
By: Keith Bunin. Directed by Jeremy Stanbary.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Fri; 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat.; 2 p.m. Sun; 10:30 a.m. Wed. Ends March 15.
Where: Salem Square Shopping Center, 5300 S. Robert Trail, Inver Grove Heights.
Tickets: $18-$28. 651-336-3302 or openwindowtheatre.org.