What a fully grown-up experience the Young people’s Summer production of Around the World in 80 Days turned out to be. It is touring several venues before going into the theatre and I saw it in the playing fields of Carr School in Acomb. By Angie Millard
The huge set is modelled on a circus tent, built on several levels and painted in red and yellow. There is a trap door in the stage and many props such as ladders, boxes, hay bales and see-saws which are put to multiple uses throughout the play. Places around the world were written on a rotating sign which was moved on manually, as required.
The five actors play many parts, switching easily between them and swiftly changing costumes. These outfits reflect the glitter of the circus and range from a dapper Phileas Fogg to an Indian Princess clad in sequins and velvet. There is an endearing clown who is Passepartout and a sinister villain in the guise of a London Policeman who, by trying to arrest Phileas, puts obstacles in the way of his winning the wager.
All the actors are able circus performers: we see a contortionist, a fire juggler and feats of daring-do. There are some impressive pieces of physical acting such as a struggle to cross a chasm before the train de-rails and a very funny scene in which the Police Inspector tries to get Passepartout drunk using a see-saw to represent his state of mind. There is also a wonderful routine of Bollywood dancing and storms at sea when the actors stagger from side to side in perfect control. Throughout they work as an accomplished ensemble: slick and impressive. The sequence where a grey coat was used as an elephant with an actor’s leg in the sleeve acting as the trunk, particularly amused me.
Juliet Forster’s show hit all the right notes. It is innovative, energetic and most of all… fun, fun, fun!
The kids loved it and began to join in where appropriate; the adults simply enjoyed the experience. My favourite scene was when the captain of the ship transporting them from America pronounced that he was from Hull and used the accent to great comic effect.
This is a production not to be missed and can be found on tour of York schools 6 to 21 August and at York Theatre Royal from 25-28 August.
Around The World in 80 Days was performed at Carr School, Acomb on Saturday 7 August 2021. The director was Juliet Forster.
The cast were: Emilio Iannuci as the Ring Master and Phileas Fogg; Ali Azhar the Clown and Passepartout; Dora Rubenstein as Nelly Bly and the sea captain from Hull; Ulrika Krishnamur as Auda, the Indian princess and Eddie Mann as the Knife thrower and Detective. All cast take all other parts.
The Set design was by Sara Perks. Lighting and sound was by Mike Redley. The Composer and Sound Designer was Ed Gray. The Movement Director was Asha Jennings-Grant and the Assistant director was Sam Bond.