REVIEW: TAUNTON’S Brewhouse re-enters its life as a producing theatre with a steampunk musical version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, on stage until 31st December.
Tim Claydon has directed and choreographed the show, which opened at Battersea Arts Centre in 2001, written by Phil Willmott and Annemarie Thomas and based on Verne’s ever popular adventure story.
The opening of the trans-American railway and the promise of air travel inspired our hero, Phileas Fogg, to wager that he could circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days, ending on Christmas morning in Greenwich. With his accident-prone assistant Passepartout, he sets off from London with a detailed plan dependent on precise timetabling of railways, steamers and other transportation means.
But the dastardly Captain Fix has other ideas, gambling his remaining funds on Fogg’s failure, and travelling incognito on the same route to make the maximum mayhem.
Add in an Indian princess saved from suttee, Barnham and Bailey’s Circus and a Parisienne fiancee, and it’s non-stop fun for the seven-strong professional cast and 22 members of the local community.
Tom Babbage from Bath, recently graduated from Central School, makes his very impressive professional debut as the engaging Frenchman, with Ross Barnes as the very proper and diffident Fogg, local favourite Derek Frood as Capt Fix, Karen Davies as Miss Fotherington and HM Queen Victoria and Samantha Harper as the princess.
The sets and costumes, designed by Cleo Pettitt, are a joy perfectly capturing the sense of Edwardian adventure and excitement, and Lisa Tustian makes sure music fits the atmosphere of the piece, even with a bit of audience participation.
This is a family show that involves the community in a meaningful way, and not just members of the local dancing school.
Everyone involved should be very proud of this joyful production, which should bring audiences flocking back into the theatre by the River Tone.