Fringe Box



Stage Dragon: Around the World in 80 Days – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 15 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 22 Jul, 2023

By Ferenc Hepp

We are invited to the circus this week at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre for a lively and energetic portrayal of a classic, Phileas Fogg’s quest to travel Around the World in 80 Days. A race against the clock.

This is a brand new production of the Jules Verne story that takes audiences along on a whirlwind adventure.

Adapted and directed by Juliet Forster, this Tilted Wig and York Theatre Royal production, set in the atmospheric “Verne’s Circus”, captures the essence of the Jules Verne classic novel and promises an evening of excitement and laughter.

From the energetic introduction, encouraging audience participation, it becomes evident that this is an ensemble piece where the actors pretend, they haven’t had a chance to rehearse together, adding an endearing charm to the production. One of the play’s strengths lies in its distinct comic characters.

The cast breathes life into their roles, showcasing effective physical comedy and impeccable timing. Alex Phelps, in the dual roles of The Ringmaster and Phileas Fogg, takes charge of the stage with confidence and exhibits excellent comic timing. His performance keeps the audience engaged and laughing throughout. Supporting Phelps is a talented group of Genevieve Sabherwal, Wilson Benedito, Katriona Brown, and Eddie Mann.

They take on multiple roles, bringing a diverse array of characters to life. Their versatility adds depth to the production, making it a true ensemble piece. There is plenty of effective use of physical comedy and impeccable timing. The cast’s well-executed comedic routines and slapstick humour encourage laughter and keep the energy high.

At the commencement, there is plenty of momentum, showcasing the brilliance of the circus theme. However, as the production progresses, the focus on the circus theme seems to diminish, which is somewhat disappointing.

Although the production falls slightly short of achieving its full potential, it is evident that the cast has a brilliant time on stage and works well together as a company.

Act 2 contains some memorable comedy moments, such as the clever see-saw scene between Benedito and Mann, as well as a hilarious ocean voyage, featuring acrobatic skills and comical facial expressions, which receives well-deserved applause, leaving the audience thoroughly entertained.

While I would have liked to see more focus on the circus theme, particularly reminiscent of the play’s lively beginning, the production showcases a lot of skill and good direction, although it falls short of reaching its full 100 per cent potential.

Despite the small numbers in the auditorium, the show was well received. The intimate setting allowed for a more immersive experience, enabling the audience to fully appreciate the comedic nuances and physicality of the performers. With its energetic cast, distinct comic characters, effective physical comedy, and good timing, the production delivers a commendable performance.

Although the focus on the circus theme wavers throughout the play, the strong ensemble cast creates an enjoyable experience. With some fine-tuning, this has the potential to become a truly outstanding theatrical experience.

Despite some minor shortcomings, this piece showcases a lot of potential and provides an enjoyable theatrical experience for both young and adult audiences alike.


Around the World in 80 Days runs until Saturday 15 July and tickets are available via: or 01483 440000.

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