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Around The World In 80 Days

Published 4 December 2015

What’s it all about?

The mysterious Mr Phileas Fogg. Punctual, pernickety yet admirably patient, Phileas bets his fellow gentleman’s club cronies that he can make it around the entire globe in just 80 days.

This is, of course, Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel, told here through the creative eyes of writer Laura Eason and director Lucy Bailey. You can expect all the voyaging escapades of the original text with a generous splash of theatrical innovation.

Who’s in it?

Robert Portal makes for a suitably pedantic yet charming Phileas, putting the success of his trip in jeopardy to save everyone from a damsel in distress to his loyal French valet.

To the latter Simon Gregor brings plenty of flamboyance, a cracking comic accent and an array of frantic movements, providing a fitting contrast to his cool, calculated master.

Among an eight-strong cast that also includes an outstanding Tim Steed as multiple hilarious characters, the star of the show for us has to be Tony Gardner as the wily Inspector Fix. Whether he’s falling off a sleigh, suffering from sea sickness or catching the wedding bouquet, his performance as the adventure story’s antagonist is comic perfection.

What should I look for?

The moment, in this innovatively staged production, that a window is transformed instantaneously into a human flower seller. Yes, really! It’s just one of the quirks of Anna Fleischle’s incredible design.

An expired arrest warrant and its exhausted carrier. Crying with laughter doesn’t quite cover it.

Some spectacular card-catching courtesy of Lena Kaur that could give Jamie Raven a run for his money.

In a nutshell?

Joyously imagined for the stage, Jules Verne’s classic tale brings heaps of hilarity, adventure and colourful characters to the St James Theatre this Christmas.

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Will I like it?

We can confidently say that this is one for both Verne newbies and devoted fans of the book. While Eason’s adaptation doesn’t stick religiously to the plot – it can’t, we’d be there all day – the playwright has truly captured all the heroic exploits of the classic Victorian text, with a cast of eight brilliantly portraying the novel’s plethora of characters. This a fun-filled theatrical treat for all the family this winter.

Around The World In 80 Days is playing at the St James Theatre until 17 January. You can book tickets through the venue’s website.

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