REVIEW: ‘Around The World In 80 Days’ – The Island Free School

Travelling around the world in 80 days may no longer seem the monumental feat it was when Jules Verne inked this classic tale in 1873; of a mysterious wealthy gentleman on the adventure of a lifetime.  With a large character list to cast, multiple global locations to depict, numerous modes of transport to portray and several nationalities to represent, TIFS took on a sizeable challenge with this play.

This Laura Eason adaptation of the well-known story, was widely celebrated when it was released in 2015.  The Island Free School drama department took the tale and made it their own, with much of the production and technical elements of the play being managed by pupils.

Phileas Fogg, played by Jack P, makes a £20’000 bet with three of his fellow high society whist players, that he can circumnavigate the globe in exactly 80 days.  More about Jack’s class performance in a moment but first, top hats off to the three London Reform club gentlemen, Fionn B, Isaac F and Sebastian Z, who played their roles with exquisite comic timing and exceptional facial expressions!

After firing his first valet for not providing water at exactly the right temperature, Fogg hires Frenchman Passepartout (played by Cleo B), who believes serving Fogg will enable him to have a quiet and structured life.  He couldn’t be more wrong, as soon he is accompanying his employer on a seemingly impossible journey. 

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard Detective Fix (played by Stanley A) is on the hunt for a bank robber. Questioning how Fogg has funded his excursion and claiming he resembles the robbery suspect, Fix sets about capturing Fogg.

The three main principals have an extraordinary amount of dialogue to learn and had clearly researched and rehearsed their roles well.  All three portrayed their characters brilliantly, maintaining accents, delivering well timed comedy and keeping the pace of the play moving.  Congratulations to Jack, Cleo and Stanley for leading this large cast.

As the journey progresses, there was clever use of lighting, sound effects, acting and a minimal set to ensure the audience knew what mode of transport was being used and the location the story had taken us.  The stage crew and technical team did a fantastic job in keeping up with swift scene changes at all times.  Alongside the technical aspects of the play, there was fantastic use of props, most notably a huge elephant puppet as well as large cloths to depict oceans and mountains.  Well done to TIFS Prop Enrichment team for really enhancing the production.

There were also some very strong performances from the supporting principals.  Notably Nadia B for her portrayal of Mrs Aouda who is rescued by Fogg and joins him on his travels and Sam S as Mr Naidu, who maintains his Indian accent throughout his scenes.

There were some excellent comedy moments throughout the play, with involvement from supporting cast and ensemble.  The Monks (Enzo C, Henry B, Finley R, Curtis G and Jack L) were a particular highlight, as was Charlie S as Captain Speedy, Francesca T in a catch-me-if-you-can tango-esque dance routine and William G as Colonel Stamp Proctor.

With a cast of 38, it isn’t possible to congratulate everyone on a thoroughly enjoyable performance of Around The World In 80 Days, but it was clear that everybody was well rehearsed, enjoying themselves and proud to be involved.

Reviewed by Rebecca Finch

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