If there’s one thing you can say without a shadow of a doubt about Eastbourne Theatres production of ‘Around The World In 80 Days' is that it's ambitious. After all adapting Jules Verne’s legendary text to film is one thing (and something everyone from Jackie Chan to David Niven has attempted) but making the story come alive on a stage is really something else. How ambitious is it? Well we are try 8 actors taking on over a 100 characters, a journey that take sin locations as diverse as Brindisi, Bombay, Yokohama and the Wild West, rides by boat, elephants, trains and hot air balloons AND even a couple of song and dance numbers thrown in for good measure.
This really is a play that has to be seen to be believed.
In case you didn't know (and honestly if you don't shame on you… get to the library right now) Around The World In 80 Days tells story of wealthily socialite Phileas Fogg (played with a suitably excellant stiff upper lip by Nicholas Maude) who in a moment of hubris wagers his fortune on the seemingly impossible and frankly insane idea of being able to travel the world in just 80 days. Accompanied by his valet Passepartout (the excellent Ben Cutler) and hotly pursed by Inspector Clouseau like British detective Inspector Fix (Ben Roddy, who clearly having the time of his life) we are taken on a whirl wind journey that involves epic journeys, wild west shoot outs, court room drama and a race to do something that no one had ever done before.
Overall it’s a great production, staged expertly by Eastbourne Theatres own Chris Jordan (whose previous productions include 39 Steps and of course Eastbourne’s must see pantomime) that finds more than a few creative solutions to help realise this ambitious tale.
The cast equally are uniformly excellent, especially considering many have multiple roles (and accents) to content with but probably a highlight for me was Roddy’s post interval audience interaction which had us almost crying with laughter. The two hour plus run time flies past. Other highlighst include the circus (again stolen by Roddy) and a very inventive torture scene
If you have previously enjoyed Eastbourne’s annual pantomime you’ll know what to expect and there's a lot of that energy, creativity and silliness on display here. And whilst it may not be quite as laugh out loud funny as the annual panto (to be fair who can contend with Martyn and Tucker’s antics),Around The World In 80 Days is still a smartly staged, funny and charming retelling of a much loved literary classic.
Starring Nicholas Maude, Ben Cutler, Freny Nina Pavri , Ben Roddy, Hannah Boyce, James Cooney and Harry Hart. Directed by Chris Jordan.
Around The World In 80 Days is performing at Eastbourne's Devonshire Park Theatre from through to