Brunel 200 Legacy Bristol Old Vic - Around the World in 80 Days.
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Around the World in 80 Days

Bristol Old Vic produced a new adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days to link with the 2006 South West Great Reading Adventure aimed at younger and family audiences.

Matt Carwardine-Palmer, Head of Marketing at Bristol Old Vic, gave some feedback on the production:

“The original proposal was to create a new adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days (the South West’s Great Reading Adventure for 2006), which we wanted to be an innovative and accessible version of the book, and to present it in our studio theatre, to audiences which especially included schools and families.

This was certainly achieved –
Around the World in 80 Days played to packed and appreciative audiences, in the Studio and, as audience details show, attracted many schools and families.

The production also, we believe, achieved its artistic ambitions, detailed in adaptor/director Toby Hulse’s proposed treatment of the original book. He set out to create a stage adaptation that mirrored the novel and the world that the novel depicted – a world of invention and optimism and humour. The fast-moving production that resulted, with three skilled actors sharing a multiplicity of roles, and a simple but imaginatively used set, certainly achieved that – as audience and critical reaction showed.”

Toby Hulse, director and producer of Around the World in 80 Days:

“I thought that Around the World in 80 Days was an inspired choice for the Great Reading Adventure in Brunel's bicentennial year. It picked up on what I felt were the major themes being explored by the Brunel celebrations – the technological achievements and advances of the Victorians, the power of the human imagination and creative spirit, the daring to imagine the impossible. As an adaptor and director the book presented fantastic practical, technical and artistic challenges, which inspired in me a very Brunellian spirit of adventure and daring. From the evidence of the performances I attended it was a delight to be working on a project that appealed genuinely to such a wide cross section of Bristol's community. I feel that this was only possible because the book had been chosen for The Great Reading Adventure, and given such a high profile across the city.”

Bristol Old Vic - Around the World in 80 Days.

Facts and figures

Around the World in 80 Days ran for 34 performances in the Bristol Old Vic Studio from 23 February to 18 March 2006. It was seen by 3,905 people, 93% of the Studio’s capacity for that time.

In addition to the 34 performances, Bristol Old Vic ran two Playdays on 9 and 16 March for 146 local schoolchildren who then stayed on to watch a matinee performance.

Ian Wainwright, Bristol Old Vic’s Education Director, commented:

“Playdays are like a theatre version of a DVD Extras Package – The Making of Around the World in 80 Days. The audience of children seeing a matinee performance get a chance to find out how the play was made, what everyone does, talking to actors and directors and even have a go at acting and directing.”

For further information about Bristol Old Vic, visit their website at:

Bristol Old Vic - Around the World in 80 Days.

Press coverage

“If you are old and cynical then avoid this show like the plague. If you are young or young at heart and spirit, then this family entertainment will delight you. Using just three actors… director Toby Hulse has adapted Jules Verne’s marvellous tale with his tongue firmly in his cheek, filling it with some lovely quirky humour… the actors all leap wholeheartedly into the spirit of this adaptation from the first moment and never let go for a second. Take the family and enjoy an evening full of clever gentle fun, leave any cynical sourpusses at home.”
Bristol Evening Post, 27 February 2006

“The wonders of Victorian technology plus Jules Verne’s rich imagination enabled Phileas Fogg to whisk around the globe in a bewildering 80 days. The wonders of modern stagecraft plus Toby Hulse’s inspired thinking enable the tale to be told in an invigorating 80 minutes. Hulse’s minimalist adaptation delights from melodramatic start to life-affirming finish.

The huge cast of three is led by Nick Caldecott who has ice-cool debonair Fogg off to a tee-hee: a mystery man with a twinkle in his eye. His servant Passepartout is loyally and breathlessly delivered by Howard Coggins, who bumbles along stoically in a myriad of other roles. Craig Edwards also multi-tasks with enthusiasm. He majors as Fix of the Yard, every inch the poor man’s Sherlock Holmes, and minors as the coquettish Princess Auoda – it’s amazing what you can do with a gent’s handkerchief. The old trunks and suitcases that furnish Vicky Andrews’ ingenious set likewise appear in many cunning disguises, most hilariously as a steamship bow in a spoof of the film Titanic.

The show is devised with youngsters in mind, as part of this year’s Great Reading Adventure and Brunel 200 celebrations, but oldies will also respond to its wit and élan. Indeed Radio 4 fogies may never thrill to the strains of Sailing By in the same way again.”

Bath Chronicle, 27 February 2006

“… it was an impossible journey and, for director Toby Hulse, an incredible task to adapt the book for the stage. How could four continents, three oceans, hundreds of people and an elephant take to the boards? Yet in a feat of theatrical magic with only three actors, shadow puppets and some fabulous projections, he has achieved the impossible in a delightful tribute to the amazing visionaries of the 19th century.”
The Big Issue, Best Theatre Adaptation of the Week, 27 February - 5 March

“It’s such a healthy dose of Monty Python nonsense that keeps the adults tickled while the slapstick is laid on thick for the children and… it’s a merrily entertaining trip for all on board.”
Metro, 28 February 2006

“Who would have thought it was possible – Around the World in 80 Days with just three actors and a pile of suitcases? Well, in Toby Hulse’s adaptation of this year’s Great Reading Adventure choice, this is made reality, even though suave Victorian gent Phileas Fogg’s epic race against time leads him through 11 cities across the globe via train, boat, carriage and even elephant. With only limited props and a lot of manic doubling up, BOV’s fast-moving and stripped-down production is both enjoyable and very funny”
Venue magazine, 3 March 2006

“The three-man cast of this ingeniously conceived adaptation tell their story with little more than a pile of suitcases as props. They navigate the globe in about 80 minutes, each second of which sparkles with wit and originality. The children in the audience audibly hold their breath as Fogg races to meet his deadline, and gasp with heartfelt relief when he does so.”
The Telegraph, 6 March 2006


Photography: Mark Simmons.