Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days is one of Jules Verne’s famous adventure novels. Reclusive gentleman Phileas Fogg gets sucked into an argument with a number of gentlemen over the possibility of traveling the world in 80 days. To prove the strength of his logic, he offers to try it himself, making a £20,000 bet.

The show as a whole is tightly intertwined with its use of physical theatre. Spinning umbrellas serve as train wheels, swaying bodies represent the motion of a ship, and there are a number of other impressive modes of transportation of which I am loath to spoil the surprise.

Thus begins the high-energy trip. Accompanied by his French servant Passepartout, and becoming acquainted with a number of other characters, they advance. The show as a whole is tightly intertwined with its use of physical theatre. Spinning umbrellas serve as train wheels, swaying bodies represent the motion of a ship, and there are a number of other impressive modes of transportation of which I am loath to spoil the surprise. It’s all tightly done by a small cast of actors, who also perform as each of the many minor characters encountered. In the hour-and-a-half long production, they act their hearts out, with few breaks, without once revealing what must be a significant emotional fatigue.

These characters are big. From the pirate-y ship captain, to the exceedingly posh Reform Club gentleman (assisted by mustaches on sticks), to Detective Fix, the oft-maligned, fourth-wall-breaking cop hunting Fogg for his vague resemblance to a bank robber, they almost always entertain with their vitality and scene-stealing pizazz.

The central characters were largely tame by comparison. Fogg served well as the straight man at the center of the insanity, but can’t be said to have done much more than that. The actress playing Passepartout, on the other hand, though she was highly expressive and often the emotional centerpiece, took “silly French accent” to John Cleese levels and kept pushing the affectation further than it needed to go, such that certain vowels sounded oddly Australian. For a role characterized by the inability to be silent, it quickly grew irritating to listen to.

Around the World in 80 Days’ biggest strength is its story. It’s exciting, fun, funny, and sweet. And that’s more than enough to warrant a view.

Reviews by Bennett Bonci

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Winner: Buxton Fringe Best Theatre Production 2015, Buxton Fringe Best Actor 2015 (Female). Stampeding elephants! Raging typhoons! Runaway trains! Danger, romance and surprises abound in this ‘fizzing cauldron of invention, energy, humour and fun’ (Buxton Fringe Review). Mark Brown's reinvention of Jules Verne's timeless classic sees eight actors playing 39 madcap characters circumnavigate the globe in one of the greatest adventures ever written. Physical theatre, ingenious set and comedic talent make this fun for all the family. ‘The creativity of the staging was astonishing … perfectly choreographed.’ ***** (StageTalkMagazine.co.uk).

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