Off the Ground’s Around the World in 80 Days
July 25, 2017
Off the Ground Theatre starts its annual summer tour of open air performances this week, with its latest production Around the World in 80 Days.
Adapted from the original Jules Verne novel by Off the Ground’s own Jim Foggin, who previously adapted Alice in Wonderland and Witches Abroad and who wrote A Legend of King Arthur, they say this classic tale has romance, adventure and an awful lot of silliness.
Phileas Fogg believes the world can be circumnavigated in record time, but the fellows at the Reform Club disagree. After a snap decision and a bet of £20,000, Fogg is on his way. With his trusty servant Passepartout, he negotiates ships, steamers and railways, tackling elephants, angry savages, human sacriﬁces and American elections en route, all while being chased by the ﬁnest ofﬁcers of Scotland Yard. Nothing fazes Mr. Fogg and his stiffest of British upper lips. He has accounted for everything – except what he might learn about himself on the way…
Artistic director Dan Meigh said: “Having read the script Jim came up with, I can conﬁrm this play will be utterly mad. We have to take the audience around the world in two hours, never mind 80 days, meeting the most magical and ludicrous collection of characters, including an Indian Princess, a blind sea-captain and the mythical embodiment of Britannia. I don’t recall ever being this excited to see how a show will come together.”
Off the Ground have been producing theatre for over 20 years. Based on the Wirral, their summer touring productions have become increasingly ambitious and spectacular with each passing year. Recent shows have included The Musketeers and Zorro, which played to sell-out crowds.
This past year the company has been engaged in various challenging projects – the season began with a youth theatre double-bill of Simon Armitage’s Eclipse, alongside Denis Kelly’s DNA. Next up was a production of The Drunks, from the Durnenkov brothers; first performed by the RSC in 2008, OTG remain the only youth theatre to have staged the darkly comic, deeply populist Gogolian comedy. This piece was preluded by a showcase of OTG’s youngest group’s work, with a presentation of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes.
Off the Ground’s primary objective is to involve as many young people in theatre as possible. OTG and Liverpool Everyman associate director Chris Tomlinson, said: “The strength of this cast is genuinely impressive. While we’ve retained much of our company from last year, the additions we’ve made have been strong ones indeed.”
One such member of last year’s company, Elliot Kingsley, has spent the last six months as part of the brand new Liverpool Everyman Rep Company – including playing Juliet, or rather Julius, in a large-scale production of Romeo and Juliet. He said: “Off the Ground gave me the platform to push on and get this incredible opportunity. When I saw the chance was there to come back and perform with them again, it was a no brainer for me.”
Around the World in 80 Days tours the North West, North Wales and Ireland over the next month. Local dates include Calderstones Park this Thursday (July 27), Birkenhead Priory on Friday (July 28), Claremont Farm in Wirral on Sunday (July 30), and other Wirral dates in early August. For more information, visit the company’s website