Ellis Productions and Aleksandar Vass present Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. The Q. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. Wed – Sat Aug 2-5 at 8pm. Matinee Sat Aug 5 at 2pm.
With an expressively simple set dominated by a giant clock this genial two hour nod to Jules Verne’s novel looked like a gorgeous show for all ages.
Ian Stenlake as the excessively English traveller Phileas Fogg was the cool centre of a nineteenth century journey filled with nineteenth century excitements.
Sharon Millerchip was a funny and slightly cynical Passepartout as well as a range of other characters often signified by no more than a hat change.
Wayne Scott Kermond made, among other roles, a conniving detective Fix and a most convincing and modest Aouda, the Indian princess rescued from a suttee pyre.
There was something of the knockabout quality of the old pantos as well as the odd anachronistic reference, but mostly the show invited us back to Jules Verne’s world.
A familiarity with the original novel certainly deepened the enjoyment. The show also took some pains to point out that the 1956 film version might have had a hot air balloon sequence, pictures of which became the film’s icon, but the novel did not. Too unreliable a means of transport for the meticulous Mr Fogg.
Perhaps you needed to be around in the 1950s and early 1960s to remember that slew of Verne and H.G.Wells Victorian SF in films that delighted some of us then. This show did not descend into excessive steam punk but seemed aware of films like The Time Machine (1960) and Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959) with their similar humour and gentility. And above all, as elephants and ships and cities and jungles and trains and customs offices arose out of the set, a sense of wonder.