Director: Alex Byrne
Reviewer: Flip Miller
If at this time of year you need a rest from pantomime then the Junction in Cambrige have just the answer.
The Junction has a reputation for some querky shows but this one is almost mainstream. Around the World in 80 days is based on the famous Jules Verne book. The title has been used with quite a bit of poestic license in the past. This adaptation keeps to the story.
This is the tale of Phileas Fogg, played by Martin Bonger. Fogg is a very meticulous, very Victorian gentleman. Some may say, in modern parlance, boring. He takes on a bet from some of the members of the Reform Club to travel the world within 80 days. Should he win the bet the members promise to pay him £55,000 collectively. This coincidentally is the amount that has recelty been stolen from the Bank of England and the same amount that Phileas Fogg just happens to have in spare cash.
Along with his man servant Jean Passepartout, played by Stephanie Mueller, Fogg embarks on a series of wonderful adventures around the globe. Picking up a suspicious Inspector of Scotland Yard and an Indian Princess along the way.
There are many twists and turns to the story, which includes even a romance worthy of a Mills and Boon novel.
The statuesque Bonger as the meticulous Fogg plays the part with precision. His progression of the character is very subtle but none the less the change is still noticeable. The partnership of Bonger and Mueller is a well chosen one. Mueller plays the comic Passepartout with such enthusiasm and eloquence. Her energy bounces off the restraint of Bonger and highlights both of their phenomenal talents.
Even a moustache malfunction did not phase Mueller who in the words of the saying “Kept Calm and Carried On”.
As a cast the group gel well and even the piano feels like a member of the cast making up some of the action and atmosphere. It is used as an intrument as well as turning into a vast array of props from an Elephant, to a Steam boat and many things in between.
With only a few live performances under their belt it is to be expected that their lines are not always on queue or as well timed as you might expect. No doubt given time the cast will iron out the stumbles over the script.
The show is billed as a family Christmas show and the cast really do work hard to make the show engaging for young and old alike. There are a vast array of musical instruments and props strewn around the stage in an apparent hazard way, however, they are always on hand when needed. The whole theatre is used as well. The cast encourage the kids to join in by shouting out and who doesn’t love it when the cast come into the audience as part of the action?
The theatre at The Junction has such an intimate atmosphere that you can’t help but to feel involved.
If you loved the book this show is a must for you. If you haven’t read the book then see the show and you will want to read the book as well.
Runs until 4th January 2015 | Photo:Claire Haigh