Travel with Taproot Around the World in 80 Days

It’s 1872 and Phileas Fogg, a mysterious English gentleman who lives his life by such mechanical precision that he fires his servant for bringing him water for shaving a mere two degrees off his preference, is at the Reform Club while some other members are discussing a newspaper article that says with the completion of a new railway in India it is now possible to travel the world via steamer and rail in a mere 80 days. The others scoff at the idea, but Fogg is so convinced that he can do it that he not only bets £20,000 (a fortune in those days), but declares that he will leave right away, pausing only long enough to have his new servant pack a bag.

Taproot Theatre‘s theatrical adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days is a fun, fast-paced adventure tale filled with suspense, excitement, and not a small amount of humor. The cast of five ably represent a broad selection of characters from around the world (only Ryan Childers, as Phileas Fogg, has the luxury of playing a single role; Alyson Scadron Branner, Nolan Palmer, and Bill Johns wear a number of hats and Andrew Litzy acts out an amazing 18 characters in the course of the play) with such enthusiasm and credibility that the simple stage setting instantly transforms into a variety of world settings, from London to Suez to Calcutta, Yokohama, New York and all points in between. Simple but effective sound and lighting effects enhance the telling of the tale–you know that the actors are really sitting on a stack of boxes but you’re so engaged that you’re perfectly able to see that elephant they’re riding.

As they race to keep on track of their schedule, Fogg and his servant Passepartout, encounter a number of obstacles and delays, including being chased by Detective Fitz from Scotland Yard who is convinced that Fogg is a bank robber wanted back home in London and the rescue of an Indian woman, Aouda, about to be burned to death on a funeral pyre. Fogg is sure he can overcome any obstacle but the more time he spends with the people who surround him, the more Fogg begins to realize that not all of life can be managed with mathematical precision. Just as things look most bleak for him, Fogg learns at last that success doesn’t just come from pocket watches and schedules, but also and most importantly from the imprecise human heart.

Around the World in 80 Days plays at Taproot Theatre through June 20 and is equally appealing for adults and children over 10.

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