Around The World in 80 Days

Date 18th December 2021
Society H'all Things Drama
Venue Trinity Methodist Church, Heywood
Type of Production Play
Director Virginia Williamson
Written By Laura Eason

Report

Author: Claire Ashworth

Congratulations firstly to H’all Things Drama for taking on such an intricate and daunting play. Having seen your work previously I was confident that the director (Virginia Williamson) would be well up to the challenge and that the audience would be in for a treat.

The stage is actually a raised dais at the front of the room so no actual wings, this doesn’t deter this society they built their own little wings/dressing room area on each side at the back of the dais and fully incorporate them into the actual performance. This play is quite scene and props heavy, the set was very cleverly done with a small section of moveable scaffolding platform and wicker trunks, the way these were used was certainly imaginative and the way in which the elephant was constructed was inspired, that said I personally didn’t like the miming of playing cards, drinking cups of tea or moving clothes - I would have preferred to see them visually done as I found it quite distracting from the dialogue. I would also at this point just mention “sight lines”, at a certain part in the dialogue one of the actors was sat side on to the audience, they were too far round (their right shoulder was too far towards centre stage ) and so the lines were thrown to the rear of the stage and not towards the audience making it quite difficult to pick up on the action and the plot.

The cast were very committed to their performance and worked very hard, in certain scenes the pace felt a little laboured with a few too many Pinter moments but they were only a few. Mark Harrison (Phileas Fogg) had a tremendous amount of dialogue and never once needed prompting. His interactions with Russell Mansfield and Adrian Middleton (Jean Passepartout) were suitably brusque, confident and marked as the character dictates which allowed him to show his softer, empathetic almost clumsy side during his interactions with Mireia Cassou (Princess Kamana Aouda). Mireia really came into her own during this production and gave us great face and “lashography”- they fluttered, they batted, they stood still and wide in amazement, they fully deserved a round of applause to themselves, they were quite wonderful . Chris Williamson (Detective Arthur Fixit) gave us a very full and physical performance, his diction was great, his accent solid, he had good use of the stage area and all the while was very generous with his other cast members.

The ensemble kept everything moving along, they cleverly showed us passage of time, different countries and various other colourful characters along the journey. Adam Moss, Angelique Stevenson-Taylor and Russell Mansfield were definitely the padding on this shows skeleton, they portrayed multiple characters, never once mixed them up, made us laugh and kept up great pace. The costumes throughout this production were excellent, very vibrant and in keeping with the countries they were representing. Larissa Grant never fails to deliver a visual delight.

Thank you H’all Things Drama for your hospitality and for taking me on the whirlwind journey, I hope to see you all again very soon.