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Around the World in 80 Days at St. James Theatre

04 December 2015

"It's a chase movie, a love story, and a heroic quest - all in one" - Lucy Baily, Director

This winter, Simon Friend, St. James Theatre Productions and Ros Povey Productions invite you to “Join Phileas Fogg on the adventure of a lifetime” with their exciting new performance of Jules Verne’s classic story, Around the World in 80 Days.

As an avid supporter of the arts and proud partner of St. James Theatre, Grange Hotels is delighted to offer audiences special accommodation rates for the show’s entire run! Our Grange Wellington and Grange Rochester Hotels are just a 15 minute walk away - much more straightforward than this turbulent voyage…

Around The World in 80 Days - St James Theatre 2015 Photo Simon Annand

The story follows well-to-do English gentlemen, Fogg, who, despite being a creature of habit and never altering from his daily routine, bets his fellow whist-players at The Reform Club that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. St. James Theatre indeed proves a fitting venue, only a short distance from the very club where the book’s famous wager is made.

It was always going to be interesting to see just how Director Lucy Baily was to recreate Laura Eason’s adaptation of this epic journey for St. James Theatre, given how many countries Fogg crosses and how many characters he meets along the way.

Fortunately, this cast of just eight are up for the challenge; playing over 50 different characters (and props) throughout the jam-packed 2 hour performance, all with different costumes, accents and attributes. In the words of Fogg, their timing has to be “impeccable” and their movements perfectly synchronised, from conveying a bumpy train ride in India to a wildly swaying ship out of China.

The _cast _of _Around _the _World _in _80_Days _at _St _James _Theatre _Photo _Simon _Annand

A clever open-plan set design by Anna Fleischle gives the audience an unrestricted view all around and even underneath the stage, as actors swiftly move across the wooden platform and down stairs; climbing on the frame and passing up props via a series of trap doors in the floor. This all adds to the audience’s feeling that we are part of Fogg’s journey. The actors even interact with us on a few occasions, whether that be via a subtle eye roll from a stagehand who is getting tired of playing the piano, or a more invasive dash from Fogg and co as they squeeze past a row of audience members.

Tony _Gardner _and _Tim _Steed _in _Around _the _World _in _80_Days _at _St _James _Theatre _Photo _Simon _Annand

The roles are expertly cast by Ginny Schiller, with familiar faces including Robert Portal as our Phileas Fogg and Tony Garden as the cunning Inspector Fix. Simon Gregor brings to life one of the audience’s favourite characters as Fogg’s trusty valet, Passepartout; a petit Frenchman who imparts plenty of comic relief throughout the play, as well as some circus tricks and singing!

Lively, exotic, fast-paced; this play sweeps you off your feet and takes you for an unexpected and thrilling ride. You may even find you catch the travel bug yourself!

Performances are on until 17th January 2016, so if you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, there’s still time - just don’t let it run out! The play is also featured on our list of this season’s must-see theatre shows and performances - check it out for our other recommendations and exclusive partner offers.

 

Photographer credit – Simon Annand