OUDS summer garden production is an annual treat which if setting, weather and subject matter coalesce seamlessly, can be sublime.
Under the magnificent trees of St John’s College Gardens, OUDS opened up the throttle to propel Phineas Fogg around the world in 80 days.
Winning his audacious £20,000 bet with the dusty members of the Reform Club might blow off their top hats, but Fogg has seen so much more: bandits, typhoons, storms, skulduggery. Always the perfect gentleman, Fogg (an assured Peter Sayer) faces every challenge with equanimity :
‘The unforeseen does not exist’, he believes – yet his journey will prove him wrong.
Fizzing around him like magnesium in a ditch is his irrepressible French man servant Passepartout (Ellie Wade). Always animated, part anime, Wade’s total immersion in the buccaneering caper was a joy. Passepartout’s loyalty to his master was only matched by his devotion to her great grandfather’s perfect timepiece, which she carried everywhere, consulted anywhere and adjusted nowhere.
In hot pursuit, wily Detective Fix (Luke Rollason) used his penetrating eyeballs to great comic effect, convinced Fogg was a runaway bank robber carrying great wadges of cash. Fogg’s largesse – buying an elephant, a steamer and dubious characters’ co-operation also attracts the attention of Aouda, a beautiful adventuress (Clementine Collett) who, while gaining a partnership in profit, has more in mind.
Director Helena Jackson ensured a rollicking pace, great ensemble playing from the eight member cast who played 37 roles and excellent music by Madeleine Walker, assisted by the versatile Rollason.
Isobel Jesper Jones brought clarity and conviction to every character she portrayed, and Tom Dowling many accents. Emily Honey’s monocled kind hearted Sir Francis contrasted with Walker’s energetic street Mudge – but all gave Emily Lunnon’s production vim and verve.
Abby Clarke’s set design, Lily O’Hara’s costumes and the superb elephant added to the magic. Touring to Buxton and Edinburgh, Curious Grin’s production will bring much pleasure everywhere.