A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

drama
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (article first published : 2006-07-1)

The premiere of Mark Brown’s Around the World in 80 Days in the United States had to be extended three times because the demand was so great for tickets.

Pieter Toerien Productions is presenting the play at the 2006 National Arts Festival and it’s easy to see why it was so popular when it was first launched onto the world.

Director Alan Swerdlow and his innovative cast – Graham Hopkins, Theo Landey, Gavin van den Berg, Johan Baird and Greg Homan – have created a highly entertaining spoof on Jules Verne’s 1870’s novel that swirls in style from vaudeville to the Goons to Monty Python!

The set couldn’t be simpler – there is a vast map of the world circa late 19th century – with a table, five chairs and a skip. The furniture morphs into a ship, an elephant and even the bridge over San Francisco harbour!

Throw in the occasional top hat, wig, straggly beard, pool cleaner pipe, sheet and deerstalker and the rest is up to the audience’s imagination. And, judging by the response from people at this afternoon’s audience, they’re imagining very nicely, thank you!

The first scene takes place in the Reform Club where aged spluttering old gentlemen are nodding away behind their newspapers. An article in the Daily Telegraph has estimated that, since the new rail connection has been opened between Bombay and Calcutta, it is now possible to travel round the word by rail or steam in an estimated 80 days. The ever-precise Phineas Fogg throws in the wager that he can do it in that time. His geriatric friends accept the challenge and Phineas heads off, accompanied by his volatile French manservant Passepartout.

Graham Hopkins is the quintessential Fogg, dapper and unflappable - a perfect foil for Theo Landey whose Passepartout with excruciating send-up French accent is endearing and mercurial.

Apart from appearing as the odd Indian guide or mahoud, Gavin van den Berg is the shadowy detective determined that Fogg is the criminal the British police force is looking for and follows him around the world, desperately trying to arrest him … although by perforce it has to be on British soil! If I have any niggle about the show, it’s that the moment when Fogg is told that he’s been a victim of mistaken identity is glossed over too quickly.

Johan Baird and Greg Homan bear the brunt of playing 37 various roles – but the most notable of these are Johan’s Aouda, the young Indian woman rescued from a funeral pyre, and Greg’s ultra camp British Consul in Suez.

Around the World in 80 Days is perfect Festival fare – fine performances, clever nuances and full use of comedy through minimum props and costumes. There is a further performance this evening (July 1) at 19h00 at Victoria Theatre. – Caroline Smart




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart