Cambridge Junction Clifton Way CB1 7GX To 4 January.
11am 28, 29 Dec, 2-4 Jan.
3pm 27-30 Dec, 1-4 Jan.
7pm 30 Jan.
Relaxed Performance 28 Dec 11am.
TICKETS: 01223 511511.

then Tobacco Factory Theatre Raleigh Road Southville BS3 1TF 1-18 July 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm, 9, 16 July 1.30pm.
BSL Signed 13 July.
Relaxed Performance 7 July 1.30pm.
TICKETS: 0117 902 0344.

Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 December.

Lively, playful and inventive.
£20,000 would be worth over £1.5 million translated from 1872 to 2014. New International Encounters (NIE) Theatre make something on the money transfer themselves. Phileas Fogg’s bet to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days becomes a £55,000 wager, and rising, while his resourceful servant on the journey, Passepartout, is employed after his predecessor’s sacking for serving Fogg’s morning cuppa too cool, instead of shaving-water at 84 rather than 86º as in Jules Verne’s novel, upon which this show (commissioned by Cambridge Junction) is based.

Such minor changes indicate the company’s free way with its material, as with a performance style which disrupts suspension of disbelief in order to intensify it by creating an overt actor-audience complicity. And to have fun for all its 6+ audiences.

It would have irritated its protagonist, an Englishman viewed from France as erect and unaware of other people, as Martin Bonger’s unsmiling, severely-bearded performance displays. Like clockwork, indeed, until halfway round the world and – here – amid a staging joke about a boat, if not the earth, moving Indian Princess Aouda (saved from death out of duty) reaches his heart.

Keshini Misha’s Aouda is quietly assertive. But it’s Stefanie Mueller’s light and cheerful Passepartout who leavens the mix, showing by example what’s missing in Fogg’s strictly ordered life.

A joke about the silent ‘t’ ending Passepartout’s name is over-used; far better was the running gag about not using a hot-air balloon in Toby Hulse’s version, which toured in autumn. Regrettably, that cinematic insertion is included here. And, while Hulse opened with the bank robbery that has Scotland Yard’s Inspector Fix pursuing Fogg, NIE merely do all possible to imply Fogg’s guilt, Ben Frimston’s Fix becoming slobbier and sweatier the closer he thinks an arrest to be.

Staging fluency and musical skills are undoubted. At one point an elephant seems to appear. The company baulk at bison but make comic delight from the Indian attack on a cross-USA train.

If there’s less theatrical wonder than in NIE’s Hansel and Gretel, that shows responsiveness to the original material. This show is certainly stuffed with performance magic.

Major Cromarty: Kieran Edwards.
Mr Stuart: Carly Davis.
Princess: Keshini Misha.
Inspector Fix: Ben Frimston.
Passepartout: Stefanie Mueller.
Phileas Fogg: Martin Bonger.

Director: Alex Byrne.
Designer/Costume: Stefanie Mueller.
Lighting: Christopher Nairne.
Musical Director: Carly Davis.
Musical collaborators: Keshini Misha, Ben Frimston.
Movement: Kasia Zaremba-Byrne.
Assistant directors: Hannah Jackson, Heidi Bowes.
Assistant designer: Fiona Rigler.

2014-12-25 19:35:59

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