Though perhaps not always the idyll pictured, lockdown provided plenty of time to dive into writing projects for Anna TrowbyUnsplash.com

Last week, I returned to the world of Lacuna Ridge, a fantasy series I created during the summer which premiered as part of the ADC online schedule. The original season saw the otherwise nameless character ‘X’ (Marina McCready), exploring ‘the realm’, as she tried to recuperate a lost identity and escape the empty landscape. The concept of the realm was influenced by my own religious upbringing in both Buddhism and Christianity. This fictional landscape provided a great opportunity for me to explore the ideas of personal identity and spirituality that I wanted to consider throughout the series.

With a second lockdown came another opportunity to dive into this make-believe world. When restrictions returned, so did the character of X, as I sat down to write another season. The protagonist meets a host of new characters and explores dangerous, unforeseen territory within the realm as she travels into the Void Lands to find her true name.

“Although Lacuna Ridge originally started as a side project to keep me occupied during the lockdown, it quickly became a vehicle for escape.”

The second series also broke new ground for my writing of the Lacuna Ridge universe. I adopted a darker and, at times, more sinister tone, intending to reflect my own evolving attitudes to the world around me. My second experience of lockdown was marred by an acute awareness of the economic downturn and job losses affecting those across the country.

Although Lacuna Ridge originally started as a side project to keep me occupied during the lockdown, it quickly became a vehicle for escape. The real world had changed so much that I immersed myself in a made-up one, where characters had more to contend with. The show worked as a distraction from what was going on, but in writing about X’s adventures, I also managed to find my way back to my own reality. It allowed me to embrace this opportunity to be creatively productive, after three stressful years at Cambridge.

“Lacuna Ridge is a fantasy setting, but it also connects to real life, and made-up worlds ultimately offer us a route back into the real one.”


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Stranded in the Realm: Lacuna Ridge is an out-of-this-world experience

My productivity during two cases of societal hiatus has produced two seasons that exist in stark contrast. Whilst my latest writing for Lacuna Ridge still includes funny moments, and retains its eccentric sense of humour, overall it explores darker themes without the lightness of comic relief. Writing Lacuna Ridge proved itself to be a useful respite during the second lockdown but, this time around, I found it was harder to transition back to normality. I still struggle with isolation, and I don’t yet feel ready to face the real world that seems to change form every day. However, writing this show has given me a way to inspect my impending nihilism and turn it into something productive.

In the first preview I wrote for this show, I said that Lacuna Ridge was about how to deal with a Brave New World. But with the sequel, I have found that instead of navigating a new world, the show questions how we deal with the world we already have, and how this world can inadvertently make monsters out of us. Lacuna Ridge is a fantasy setting, but it also connects to real life, and made-up worlds ultimately offer us a route back into the real one.

I have struggled to make sense of my place in the world at a time when my own identity is still in formation. Writing Lacuna Ridge cannot solve this issue for me, or for anyone else, but I hope it may help us navigate this ever changing world.

To listen to the second season on YouTube, click here.

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