by Laura Eason ased on the novel by Jules Verne.

St James Theatre 12 Palace Street SW1E 5JA To 17 January 2016.
2.30pm 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 20, 22-24, 26, 27, 29-31 Dec, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17 Jan.
6.30pm 20, 27 Dec, 3 Jan.
7.30pm 8-12, 15-19, 22, 23, 29, 30 Dec, 2, 5-9, 12-16 Jan.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 264 2140
Review: Carole Woddis 3 December 2015.

A delight for the seasonal festivities
Just in time for Christmas, writer Laura Eason and Lucy Bailey have served up a phantasmagoric bon bouffe of festive delight. How on earth do you put on stage Jules Verne’s global adventure, that in the famous movies had all the technical resources of cinema at their disposal.

Against the odds, they’ve done it. Bailey’s Around the World in 80 Days is a hymn to theatre’s infinite ingenuity and invention.

How else to describe Bailey and designer Anna Fleischle’s little-short-of-brilliant accommodation of necessity, utilising the stage and its pit area as a working powerhouse of ropes, bells, pulleys and trap doors?

Humour is in every pore of a production from a writer and director who have stuck fairly closely to the original – if forsaking the iconic cinematic balloon.

Bailey, it should be remembered, was artistic director of the iconoclastic Gogmagogs music group, dedicated to presenting contemporary music with the emphasis on the physical – a style she adopts here, mixing precision sharp physicality with slapstick, sleight of hand and economy, to winning effect – one also hugely successful in that other nifty book adaptation, The Thirty Nine Steps.

She is blessed too with a wonderfully shape-changing cast able to adapt themselves to nationality and country at the swish of a curtain. As Phileas Fogg, the 19th century Englishman of rigorous habit who takes on a wager to circumnavigate the world in eighty days, Robert Portal is every inch the old-fashioned Imperial if honourable Englishman, impervious to disaster, stiff-upper-lip and a copy of Bradshaw ever to hand.

Beside him, as his selfless factotum, Passepartout, Simon Gregor’s mimetic, veritable jumping-jack and Tony Gardner’s droll, lugubrious Inspector Fix, become a source of delightful comic mayhem and double-takes.

But this is a completely ensemble effort, conjuring trains, ships – even an elephant – and cities from Calcutta to the American mid-West in a blizzard before the deadline tolls. When it does – and Phileas is victorious – the audience’s whoosh of pleasure is a token of the production’s triumph. We were, very much, all in this together.

Phileas Fogg: Robert Portal.
Passepartout: Simon Gregor.
Inspector Fix: Tony Gardner.
Mrs Aouda: Shanaya Rafaat.
Colonel Proctor & others: Tim Steed.
Nr Naidu & others: Eben Figueiredo.
Miss Singh & others: Lena Kaur.
Judge Obadian & others: Liz Sutherland.

Director: Lucy Bailey.
Designer: Anna Fleischle.
Lighting: Chris Davey.
Sound: Mic Pool.
Composer: Django Bates.
Movement: Lizzi Gee.
Dialect coach: Edda Sharpe.
Magic consultant: Darren Lang.
Fight directors: Rachel Bown-Williams, Ruth Cooper-Brown.
Assistant director: Rupert Hands.

First performance of this production of Around the World in 80 Days, at St James Theatre, London, 26 November 2015.
Produced by Simon Friend, St James Theatre Productions and Rose Povey Productions. Associate Producer, Jam Pictures.,/b>

2015-12-07 09:50:23

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