Acrobatics, Kung-Fu, optical illusions, and a grand voyage around the world… it could well be a circus, but it’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre’s latest play.
Laura Eason’s adaptation of the 1873 classic adventure by French novelist Jules Verne is as visually enticing as it is minimalistic, making use of creatively executed visual illusions to maximise the audience’s imaginative ability.
Now on a major national tour after a retake at the New Vic, the production makes the impossibility a reality, bringing to the Rose Theatre the whole world on a single stage.
Following on the lead of its original story, Mr Fogg (Andrew Pollard) embarks on a mammoth journey around the globe in 80 days after a bet he makes with his skeptical pals at the Reform Club. Mr Fogg, a wealthy man of mathematical precision who prides himself as a “true Englishman”, is determined to prove them all wrong and sets sail accompanied by his loyal French manservant Passepartout, played by Michael Hugo with a rather effortless Gallic accent.
As the first act develops into an adventure-filled jubilee, the audience’s expectation of what is a family play is skilfully toyed with and we’re left delighted and engaged. Passepartout’s clownish ways never cease to surprise and he nearly steals the show among some impressive Kung-Fu and off-the-script puns.
Perhaps the most surprising factor of the whole production is the ability it demonstrates to break the invisible wall between spectator and character without seeming laughably forced.
Around the World in 80 Days doesn’t come without some sound advice, too. “There is no sense in worrying in what could have happened when indeed it has not,” says Mr Fogg at some point. His ability to overcome curveballs, his “intriguing knowledge of British law” and his honourable mannerisms help him turn a seemingly far-fetched adventure into an admirable achievement splashed with a twist of heroic courage.
Around the World in 80 Days is as deeply entertaining as it is refreshing, and it comes to prove that you don’t need to travel far to witness a great theatrical production.
Around The World in Eighty Days is at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre from Tue 31 Oct – Sat 4 Nov. Tickets are available online, by phone, 01483 44 00 00, or from the Box Office.