Getting around with Phileas Fogg in Arvada
In a time where one can be almost anywhere in the world in a day or two, the audience has to bring imagination to a play set in a time when travelers devoted a year to circumnavigating the globe.
Although Jules Verne was excited about the technological advancements in the 1850s, when there was a Society for the Encouragement of Aerial Locomotion by Means of Heavier-Than-Air-Craft, according to the Arvada Center program, he had to dream and write science fiction about new modes of travel.
He wrote about Phileas Fogg (Dustin Bronson), a mid-19th-century wealthy nerd, who made a wager with men at his London club that he could go “Around the World in 80 Days.” The Arvada Center presents Creede Repertory Theatre’s witty production of Mark Brown’s play, adapted from the novel, through Oct. 27. It is set in 1872 “in London and around the world.”
As lights go up, the stage has a raked platform with a single rose velvet chair centered on it. It will become a ship and other locations in rapid succession. India, Africa, Asia, Europe …
Fogg’s previous servant allows that he has just been fired because the shaving water was the wrong temperature for his excessively structured employer.
A replacement, the French Passepartout (Graham Ward), appears, ready to go to work — and to travel, he learns, since Fogg has just made his 20,000-pound bet. He wears his grandfather’s fine watch, which cannot possibly be wrong, he insists. He keeps it on London time through the trip and there is talk throughout about what time it is — a key to the ending.
That simple platform becomes many destinations as the imaginative choreography by director Charlie Oates carries it to distant lands. The other scenic prop is a large cabinet that becomes an office for all sorts of characters, mostly played by the versatile Patrick Du Laney, with lightening-fast costume changes.
John Arp plays Detective Fix (and others) trailing after Fogg with an arrest warrant. His comic talents are in top form. Caitlin Wise is the fifth member of this talented cast. Among other roles, she is the lovely Aouda, whom Fogg rescues from some Bedouins and, of course, falls for.
Fogg remains himself, but other characters in a variety of costumes and with assorted accents, swirl in and out of a fast-moving story. The audience cheered in several especially cleverly staged scenes.
Crisp dialogue, imaginative costumes and precise direction contribute to a well-produced bit of time travel. Suitable for children age 9 and over.