Reviewed by Louise Edwards
Based on the book of the same name, written and set in the late 19th century by Jules Verne, Around the World in 80 Days has been transformed to theatre and is currently showing at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham before heading out on a nationwide tour, directed by Theresa Heskins, the Artistic Director at the New Vic Theatre in Staffordshire. Suitable from aged 8 years the show is an absolute triumph for all the family and a brilliant evening out for all to enjoy.
The opening scene sees the quintessential Englishman, Phileas Fogg, played with charisma and charm by Andrew Pollard, waking and following his precise daily routine with mathematical precision. Along with the aid of his trusty vallet life has the same pattern, ending the day winning a game of whist at the Reform club.
All is calm and ordered until one day when we see him replacing his usual vallet, who brought him his tea not at the right temperature, with French man, Passepartout, played brilliantly by Michael Hugo, who is looking for a quiet life after travelling the world on various jobs.
There is excitement at the Reform club with the event of a robbery at the bank of England and also the latest news of a railway opening in India meaning that you can travel around the world in 80 days. The other members of the club scoff at the latter news but Fogg takes on the wager that it is possible and he will prove it. With a bet of £20,000 at stake (worth in the millions today) he embarks on the adventure with Passepartout and his trusty book of timetables.
The magnificent cast of eight take on 125 different roles as the adventures kicks off and the excitement starts. The planned route takes them from London to Dover by boat to Calais, train to Italy, boat via the Suez Canal to Bombay, train to Calcutta, boat to Yokahama, boat to San Francisco, train to New York, boat to Liverpool and finally train to London. Of course, things don’t run so smoothly and along the way they are chased by a police officer, Inspector Fix from Scotland Yard, played with great comedy timing by Dennis Herdman, who is convinced that Fogg is the Bank of England’s thief. He tries to thwart and jeopardise the journey in order to arrest Fogg on British soil (when the Empire was much bigger than it is today), leading Passepartout to think he has been sent from the reform club to hinder the plans. Added to this mayhem the train line in India isn’t actually finished, Fogg finds love, they get held up by bandits, join a circus, get kidnapped, lose each other, are drugged, arrested and battle a storm at sea. The calm and patient nature of Fogg throughout is really a life lesson for us all with his mantra that everything will work out and we see Fogg transform from a stuffy timekeeper to relaxed adventurer.
The whole show is so cleverly done you can’t fail to love it. From the hilarious fight scenes to the magic trick money exchanging and audience participation we all thoroughly enjoyed the show. The 8 and 10 year olds with us were captivated with what would happen to Fogg and his companions.
If Around the World in 80 Days is visiting a theatre near you, grab your tickets you will not be disappointed!
Tickets cost from £12.50 to £27.50 (booking fees may apply).
Around the World in 80 Days is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 11-15 July 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND | 0115 989 5555