This week, the B Street Theatre revives the most popular production in the company’s history: An action-packed, five-actor adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around The World In 80 Days. And this is the first time they will perform in India. The play is a cavalcade of costumes, sound cues (howling storms, raging elephants) and rapid entrances and exits, as sauve and smart Phileas Fogg attempts to circle the globe in record time, on a gentlemanly wager.
“The play has three story lines: Philleas Fogg’s efforts to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days while being pursued by a dogged police detective who mistakenly believes him to be a bank robber in flight. And there is a love story,” says director and producer Buck Busfield. Based on an adaptation by writer Mark Brown, the play, which premiered in 2001 and has been staged on Broadway, in Canada, England and South Africa, features five actors playing 39 characters.
But five actors playing 39 characters is a daunting task. When asked how was the team able to achieve it, the director says that though the actors are perfectly adept at playing different characters, it’s chaos backstage. “Ten seconds to change costumes and enter in a different place than you left makes for a havoc,” Busfield says.
The first thought that comes to mind when the name Around The World In 80 Days appears are the famous movies made with the same story and title. But Busfield says the play is not inspired by them. “I believe the playwright conceived this adaptation purely from Mark’s fertile imagination,” he says.
“We are very excited to come to India and perform in Mumbai. It’s a new format and we will be glad to see the audience reaction and different trends that are followed in India,” says actor Greg Alexander, adding that, “Despite being nervous we look forward to perform in front of a huge audience of about 1,000 people.” The other four actors to perform with him are Michael Stevenson, Elisabeth Nunziato, David Pierini and Jerry Montoya.
Busfield says that Mumbai has a great theatre community with enviable talent. “I’d love to spend a year here immersing myself in its breadth and talent,” he adds signing off.
When & Where: February 21, at Tata Theatre, NCPA from 7.30 pm onwards