Around the World in 80 Days
Until Saturday, September 30
CHOREOGRAPHY often gets a mere footnote in theatre reviews.
After the acting, singing and set design, there might be a passing nod to movement.
But action plays as big a role as Fogg or Passepartout in this thrilling adaptation of Jules Verne’s famous work, for which movement director Beverley Norris Edmunds should be proud.
From the summoning of ships and trains by the cast’s bouncing and swaying, to the transference of passports and cash by clever sleight of hand, this show is as much a mime or circus performance as it is a storytelling.
The fights delight especially, spanning the stage and causing mayhem without the pugilists ever touching.
As with Fogg’s fabled journey, every footstep, fight and fall is planned and executed with military precision.
Costume and set design deserve high billings here too.
Indeed, the two often overlap, as an overcoat becomes an elephant or a costume trunk a train carriage.
Beautiful dresses and waistcoats mimic the map looming over our heroes, as on-stage costume changes whisk us across continents in the blink of an eye.
Such theatrical magic demands a strong cast — our travelling troupe rises expertly to the challenge.
The depth and breadth of their talent is extraordinary, but special mention must go to Passepartout (Michael Hugo), who would be just at home in a big top as on stage.
His acrobatics and pratfalls bring clowning into the performance, frequently breaking the fourth wall, drawing the audience deeper into the adventure.
Credit goes to Fogg (Andrew Pollard), too, whose cool character is faithful to the book, but a little more likeable.
Fans of the the novel will find lots to like here — not least a cheeky jibe at the proverbial hot air balloon.
“No matter how hard you look in the book,” says Fogg, referring ostensibly to his timetable, “you will not find a balloon!”
I laughed, anyway.
Balloon or not, Around the World in 80 Days soars to the top flight of my all-time favourite stage productions — a truly ingenious show suitable for all.
For more information and tickets, click here.