Writer: Jules Verne
Adapter: Laura Eason
Director: Theresa Heskins
Reviewer: Beth Steer
In a clever adaptation by Laura Eason, Around the World in 80 Days tracks Phileas Fogg (Andrew Pollard), perhaps the world’s most famous fictional explorer, as he stakes his life’s fortune on a bet that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days.
The mysteriously wealthy Fogg and his loyal valet, Passepartout (Michael Hugo), engage in a race against the clock to take steamers, trains and other, more exotic, vehicles across the world. And, determined to return in time to win Fogg’s bet, they can’t afford a moment of delay – just a few hours could cost Fogg his fortune.
As they journey from Victorian London, through Europe, Africa and the Wild, Wild West, a talented cast of eight play over 125 characters. Encountering curious individuals, perplexing cultural differences – and, all the while, tailed by an indignant Inspector Fix (Dennis Herdman), convinced that Fogg is the ‘thief of the bank of London’, Fogg and Passapartour’s adventures are slapstick, comical, and ridiculous.
Pollard is a good Fogg – abrupt yet gentlemanly – and Hugo’s portrayal of the loyal valet brings more than a few touches of comedy to the duo’s escapades. The flexibility and adaptability of the other cast members, too, is noteworthy, they slip seamlessly between not only characters, but countries, and continents.
The real star of the show, though, is the creative. The set design, lighting, props and direction are all fantastic – a truly impressive production in its fluidity. Using simple props, the production transports the audience across six trains, five boats, four fights, three dances, two circus acts, and an elephant. It is quite remarkable.
While the set is entrancing, the performance is a little stilted in places. No doubt a result of the family-friendly intended audience, jokes are repeated – a lot – and do get a little old. And, the overall pace of the performance (despite the rapid nature of Fogg’s journey), could be quicker.
That being said, Around the World in 80 Days is a light-hearted production, full of fun and humour. The runtime could perhaps be reduced, but it’s a good watch, an easy-going, family-friendly classic, that’ll leave you smiling.
Runs until 24 September 2017 | Image: Contributed