Around the World in 80 Days

80 Days Ian Stenlake, Pia Miranda and Grant Piro - photo by James TerryDo you remember when you were young in school going on an excursion to see a play, and finding it to be the most hilarious and entertaining thing you have ever seen?

Keep that mindset and you will absolutely love the production of Around the World in 80 Days that is currently playing at the Alex Theatre St Kilda, directed by Terence O’Connell and produced by Helen Ellis and Aleksander Vass.

This production is a delightful and somewhat silly romp bringing to the stage one of Jules Verne’s classics Around the World in Eighty Days. The story itself is a timeless classic (pun intended) of a wager to circumnavigate the globe via the most effective transport means available in 1872.

Through the adventures of an English gentleman Phileas Fogg (Ian Stenlake), and his french assistant Jean Passepartout (Pia Miranda), racing around the world while being pursued by Inspector Fix (Grant Piro), who suspects Fogg of being a bank robber, we can remind ourselves of the temporal nature of our technology. Everyone has who ever lived has done so in parallel with the most advanced technology of that particular time. What we consider to be fast today, will most certainly be viewed as an 80 day voyage to a future generation.

The play itself started on a slightly hesitant footing, a dubious narrative describing a bank robbery, that needed an ounce of gusto, it was clear this production was centred around the three performers Ian Stenlake, Pia Miranda and Grant Piro. Each equally star in this production, and at times take on multiple characters rapidly changed in real-time during the performance in well-timed slapstick routines.

Very silly but also quite comical. The performance by each is nothing less than entertaining, and the storyline (Toby Hulse, playwright) is clearly geared towards a younger audience with jokes suitable for all ages that do not compromise a child’s intellect as a crude humour trap.

The steampunk-inspired set design (Merinda Backway) features numerous clock clogs set against a giant clock face which predominately do little except for reminding the audience that time is of an urgency. This being said, there were a few instances where the scene transformed subtlety, but effectively into a prop, and this could have easily added an additional dimension to the production if implemented more. The costuming (Lucy Wilkins) also was simple, yet effective, and incorporated iconic elements that easily allowed the characters to switch personas at will.

Unlike the set design and costuming that effectively translated their narrative elements, the music sounded cheap; a shame considering a live music component would have driven this performance to the next level. The sound effects were well, corny, and again would have been hilarious to a younger crowd, and perhaps justified if added as a comical element to a more stylish audio production that resonates the “true English gentleman with great teeth” theme.

All in all, you will laugh and enjoy this familiar ride around the world. The production shows great potential to be lifted, but as it stands will be a great family outing. I am not sure I will think of Princess Aouda in the same way ever again though.

Director: Terence O’Connell Featuring: Pia Miranda, Grant Piro, Ian Stenlake Set Design: Merinda Backway Costume Design: Lucy Wilkins Sound Design: David Ellis Lighting Design: Jason Bovaird Producers: Helen Ellis & Aleksandar Vass

Around the World in 80 Days
The Alex Theatre, 135 Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda
Performance: Saturday 27 August 2016 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 4 September 2016
Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au or www.alextheatrestk.com

Around the World in 80 Days will also play Geelong Performing Arts Centre (14 – 17 September); Mooroolbark Community Centre (21 September); and the Whitehorse Centre (23 – 24 September). A national tour is planned for 2017. For more information, visit: www.aroundtheworldin80days.com.au for details.

Image: Ian Stenlake, Pia Miranda, and Grant Piro star in Around the World in 80 Days – photo by James Terry

Review: Jimmy Twin

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