Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray
Larry Murray: The play Around the World in 80 Days is about as deep as a shallow puddle says its creator, Mark Brown, but it’s really fun. It’s full of life, and the actors tell the tale as a group of eight-year-olds might, one minute they are bouncing around, pretending they are riding on an elephant, the next they are fighting for their lives in the middle of a typhoon. The Oldcastle production gives those of us in the audience a chance to be young again.
Gail Burns: You know I hadn’t thought of it that way, and I’m glad you helped me see the light. I was thinking that the show was rather juvenile, but of course it’s meant to be. It is told with child-like simplicity and has the joie de vivre of children at play. It is not only a great show to take children to see, it is a great show to enjoy with child-like glee.
Larry: Jules Verne wrote his adventure novel in 1873, the middle of the Industrial Revolution, and it was an amazing time to live in. Housing conditions were improving rapidly with the invention of indoor plumbing and the ability to live a more civilized and organized life than was possible before. Among the amazing feats of the era was the completion of the Suez Canal, America’s Transcontinental Railroad and the Great India Peninsula Railroad which made it possible to travel around the world ten times faster than in the previous century. It was all recounted in Verne’s book Around the World in 80 Days which Mark Brown reworked in 1999-2001 as the basis of this play.
Gail: There were still frontiers and uncharted lands then, although Phileas Fogg and his entourage stay safely within the bounds of “modern” civilzation and travel modes during their journey. This is a story of man’s sublimation of nature.