Wednesday, 27 January 2021

REVIEW: Tales of a Reluctant World Traveler for the Living Record Festival Online

The Living Record Festival is an eclectic mix of content described “as digital media designed specifically for streaming created by over 40 independent artists and theatre companies from across the world. Accessible from your living room at the click of a button, the Living Record Festival is a celebration of ground-breaking grassroots digital art happening between the 17th of January and 22nd February 2021.” Having sampled and enjoyed a selection of their offerings I have dived deeper into the catalogue and tried “Tales of a Reluctant world traveller” by Randy Ross. As we are all in travel lockdown and overseas holidays seem a distant memory, it sounded like an interesting comedic taste of the exotic locations we can no longer safely travel to. It turns out it is little more than a narrated one-hour slide show promoting a recently published book “God Bless Cambodia” and I assume intended to promote the book and encourage online purchases. Needless to say, although I stayed the distance, I shall not be buying the book.

It starts encouragingly enough tempting us with the promise of exotic, maybe even erotic, tales from a 48-year-old recently separated and unemployed Bostonian’s sixteen-week trip across four continents to eight countries in 2007. A trip that took in windsurfing in Margherita Island in Mexico (1st continent South America), a trip to Karpathos Island in Greece (2nd continent Europe), bungee jumping in South Africa (3rd Continent Africa), $1 street food in Cambodia and Thailand (4th continent Asia) and Bush flies in Australia and river boarding in New Zealand (5th continent Australia) and back to America (6th Continent North America). Yes, I know that is six continents (only Antarctica was missing from the trip), so he over delivered on his promise of four! Yet we learn nothing about any of these places, I suppose the answer is to buy the book. 

There is plenty of discussion about the horrors of budget travel in a sort of Lonely Planet style guide. The risks of Diarrhoea, Typhoid, Cholera, Deng Fever, Malaria, yellow fever, and Guinee worm disease are hinted out requiring seven vaccinations but not as far as I could tell encountered (perhaps I need to read the book to find out?). The joys of Asian squat toilets, Snake wine and youth hostels are described but generally sound like they are to be avoided. The challenges of red-eye flights and tourist crime (including a decoy wallet) are described as a warning to would-be travellers. Randy also included footage of an unfortunate lady whose bungee line snapped and survived as a warning for anyone considering this ultimate thrill dive (I did not need to know that it was dangerous, it is patently obviously!). We hear nothing of his search for a lover on his tour, perhaps that too is reserved for the book.

The last part of the lecture delivered by Randy from behind an orange screen is devoted to his thirteen-year quest to get the story of his trip published as a book – “God Bless Cambodia” the process and rejections and ultimately the self-promotion for it including Fringe festivals and this lecture. He paints the picture of a lonely, depressed man having a mid-life crisis, a writer in search of a topic and a good lady. We don’t discover much about him or his success with women but perhaps he keeps that reveal for the book. If you are interested buy the book but I would recommend looking elsewhere for an hour’s entertainment at the Living Record Festival.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★

Seat: Online | Price of Ticket: £8

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