Around the World in 80 Days
Around the World in 80 Days has travelled through many different incarnations over the years. Beginning as a classic adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne in 1873, it has inspired radio adaptations, countless films (including the most recent 2004 adaptation with Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan), television series and even a short-lived musical version written by Orson Wells and Cole Porter. Now, it is coming to Melbourne audiences in the shape of a play at the Alex Theatre, St. Kilda starring Pia Miranda, Ian Stenlake and Grant Piro.
The madcap story of Around the World in 80 Days requires quite a significant cast. There is the gentlemanly Phileas Fogg, his manservant Passepartout, Inspector Fix of the Scotland Yard and a large cast of supporting actors including (but not limited to) a tribal princess, members of the British Consulate, an Indian police chief, religious priests, members of the aristocracy, train drivers, sea captains, a narrator and even an elephant. Yet, with a cast of three of Australia’s most talented performers, they somehow manage to cover all bases with some lightning-quick costume changes and an ever-changing assortment of foreign accents.
Ian Stenlake (Sea Patrol, Guys & Dolls) leads the cast as the devilishly handsome gentleman with a perfect smile, Phileas Fogg, capturing an air of aristocratic stuffiness that not even a tribe of heathens could shake. Next to his Phileas Fogg, Pia Miranda and Grant Piro shine taking on the bulk of supporting roles between them and effortlessly swapping between diametrically opposed characters. The highlight of the show comes early in a scene between these two where Grant Piro’s Inspector Fix of the Scotland Yard continues swapping between conversations with the manservant Passepartout and the secretary of the British Consulate, both played by Pia Miranda. Swapping from one character to the next provides plenty of comedic hilarity as the performers embrace the tradition of British pantomime – and a malfunction with the set only adds to the experience allowing these talented performers an opportunity to improvise!
The show’s book, written by UK educational theatre writer Toby Hulse, toes a fine line between serious theatre and British pantomime and at times feels like it needs to embrace the hilarious pantomime style more in this British sendup. That being said, the kids in the audience were almost rolling in the aisles towards the end of the show as a series of setups from throughout the show came to a climactic ending.
Around the World in 80 Days is the perfect faire for families looking to introduce their young children to the theatre with the opportunity to see some of Australia’s best performers in the intimate surrounds of the Alex Theatre, St. Kilda. This production is running until September 4. For more information and to book tickets, visit http://www.alextheatrestk.com/