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Review: The World Over (State Theatre of Chicago)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

Review: The World Over (State Theatre of Chicago)   
The World Over

Written by Keith Bunin
Directed by Tim Speicher
at ARCC Ballet, 2200 N. Elston (map)
thru Nov 19  |  tickets: $12-$20   |  more info

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Travel the ‘world over’ with State Theatre of Chicago


Review: The World Over (State Theatre of Chicago)


The State Theatre presents


The World Over

Review by Danielle Stack

If you take a pinch of The Odyssey and mix it with the moral of Into the Woods, you would get Keith Bunin’s epic The World Over. This play tells the story of Adam, a castaway on an island who latches on to the hope of a fairytale while seeking his lost kingdom of Gildaroy. On his journey he encounters pirates, corrupt royalty, griffins, shipwrecks – and that’s just in Act 1! Though at times overwritten, Bunin’s play is packed full of enchantment and a plethora of characters. With this elaborate story in mind, one would think the production elements of this show would be intricate and grandiose. However, The State Theatre of Chicago tackles this play within a confined space, with minimal set and costume pieces – and succeeds in their endeavor.

Review: The World Over (State Theatre of Chicago)
The bulk of The World Over’s set is comprised of cardboard boxes, ladders and folding chairs. Tim Speicher directs his cast to use these pieces effectively, conveying the locations in the play, including a palace, ship and jungle. To help depict the numerous settings, there are watercolor paintings of each background projected behind the actors. The costumes, designed by Yonit Olshan are also basic, but still successfully portrayed all of the 30+ characters within the play. Overall, every production element is on mark and, when combined, they effectively convey a world of imagination and whimsy.

The ensemble is energetic from start to finish, obviously having fun with each of their roles. The World Over’s ensemble exudes talent throughout the entire show, keeping one’s attention throughout the numerous scene changes and many plotlines. Daniel Gilbert does an exceptional job of portraying a naïve castaway who still holds the innocence of someone unaware of the world outside his island. As the play progressed we’re able to see Gilbert’s progression of his character through his trials in Act 2. Emily Radke and Alee Spadoni give strong performances as the only two females in the show, and are able to keep up with the high energy of the male ensemble, at times stealing the show. The male ensemble, comprised of Austin Campion, Adam Shalzi, Dan Toot, Mark Viafranco and Jason Nelson are excellent in all of their roles; be it a young warrior, a rambunctious pirate, a resentful king or a scholar. (Besides Nelson’s excellent onstage performance, he also provides music for this show as well.)

The other aspect of this production that deserves recognition are the puppets, designed by Taylor Bibat and Rachel Singer. I won’t give away all of what the puppets were used for within the show because that would ruin the surprise, but each time they appeared on stage I fell in love with them. There are moments within the puppet sequences that one might believe that they’re actual living creatures! Kudos as well to puppet handler Genevieve Lally-Knuth.

In general this production is very well put together with wonderful production elements and an outstanding cast. Be warned, this production is a bit long (2 hours and 30 minutes) and the play itself could use some trimming. The State Theatre of Chicago tackles this epic tale courageously and succeeds in its efforts. Congrats to cast and crew on a great show!


Rating: ★★★



The World Over continues through November 19th at ARCC Ballet, 2200 N. Elston (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm.  Tickets are $12-$18, and are available online at More info at time: 2 hours 30 minutes, which includes one 10-minute intermission)

Review: The World Over (State Theatre of Chicago)

All photos by Zane Davis




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