BEYOND BORDERS: The Quixotic Adventures of Sir Ken
Updated: Nov 29
In 1975, Ken Potter, an irresolute croupier saddened by the recent death of his father, yearns to escape the London rat-race. Alan Llambias, a casino colleague, suggests a trip to Rio. They disagree about routes then compromise on a third unlikely but decisive option – to head east to get to Rio the long way round. For Ken, an intended 6-month trip turns into an 8-year saga that tests his resolve to the limit.
Beyond Borders is a dramatised true story – an epic account of Potter’s colourful and, at times, harrowing hitch-hiking and bicycling odyssey. He and his companion shrug off the UK recession, don city suits, and assume the roles of self-appointed British ambassadors. In a blaze of publicity, the two would-be adventurers set off to all points east.
Set-backs abound. Alan drops out. Potter, now alone but with ever-increasing conviction, perseveres across pre-revolutionary Iran and India. In Delhi, he’s drugged by a sect who rip off tourists. Whilst drugged, he imagines his late father. His poverty-stricken dad always wanted to get to Rio in search of a misappropriated family fortune. Ken makes a promise to get to the city in his Dad’s stead.
In Sydney, he falls deeply in love with Natalie. He tries to convince her to join him in his trek but, inspired by all his talk of travel, she fulfils her own lifelong ambition and embarks on a trip to Europe. He’s crestfallen but they stay in touch.
Potter becomes a “Modern-Day Don Quixote”. Armed with a bicycle for a horse and a singular brand of eccentricity, he pits wits and mettle against the elements. He nearly freezes to death on a Costa Rican mountaintop, all but dies when lost in a desert, and almost drowns in a jungle gulf. He’s accused of being a spy by secret police. His diplomatic persona earns him the appellation of “British Ambassador to the World” from the international media. His experience in Buenos Aires provides an invaluable perspective on Anglo-Argentine relationships just prior to the Falklands War. Whilst the play is not overtly political, it encompasses contemporary issues regarding national borders and identities.
Potter eventually makes it to Rio, 7½ years behind schedule. There’s a wild carnival atmosphere. He once again imagines his dead dad. Natalie turns up out of the blue. They let loose in the carnival then travel back to London with impassioned spirit. Now worldly-wise and very much a changed man, the “British Ambassador to the World” becomes a veritable “Citizen of the World”.
After reading Beyond Borders, Alan Harris, Welsh playwright and winner of a Judges' Award at the 2015 Bruntwood Prize, had this to say: