Review: Around the World in 80 Days @ The Lowry, Salford

The classic adventure story of the meticulous and fortune-filled Phileas Fogg is playing on stage as Around the World in 80 Days lands at The Lowry in Salford.

The original storyline stands firm in this West End adaptation, with Phileas Fogg – an inventor living in Victorian England – boldly accepting a bet to travel around the world against the clock, aiming to be back within an 80-day time limit alongside his valet Passepartout and trusty Bradshaw Guide.

The small cast of only eight play over 125 different characters in this wild and explosive take on Jules Verne’s 1873 book, delivering profound acting, confidence and ability within their different roles, and, in hindsight, effortless and quick costume changes.

Michael Hugo plays the exceedingly animated and hilarious Passepartout while Andrew Pollard takes hold of the more stern and serious lead role of Phileas Fogg.

While these two endeavour on their magical trip around the imaginative world that is their stage, they encounter a total of six trains, five boats, a sledge ride, a trip on an elephant, four fights, three dances and an acrobatic act any circus member would join in on.

PROFOUND: The actors are confident and able

Travelling from the ports of Dover, through Europe and onto the likes of Japan, the crew use a vast amount of movement to show their locations, cultures, feelings and motives throughout.

A memorable scene features a grey elephant, created by using a shawl-like grey coat, tied at one end to make a trunk and held out to create the shape of an elephant’s head at the other.

The key factor is the simplicity of it all; allowing one’s mind to explode with imagination at the visuals and movements that the stage is creating, only to discover something that isn’t actually there.

The actors’ clean and in-sync actions create a mood of punctuality and swiftness, all adding to the underlying theme of time and making it back before the deadline.

Backflips, handstands and even the splits grace the stage in the acrobatic scene in the second half, all accompanied by tight red and white striped circus outfits nonetheless.

The multi-talented cast meet the physically demanding requirements with energy and demeanours, drawing the whole audience to the front of their seats.

IMPRESSIVE: The physicality involved in the perfomance is much appreciated

In particular, the playful comic book fighting scenes show that even actors have to be meticulously fit and versatile in this day and age.

The ingenious ways of throwing a Matrix-like punch fill the stage with an energy which does not stop flowing until the very last bow.

The scenes are all extremely creative and well-articulated and if the different cultural backdrops doesn’t make you aware of exactly where you were in the world, the use of several other languages and accents certainly does.

The actors and actresses manage to tie this crazy and fun collaboration altogether as if it were second nature, with Hugo winning the stage with his easy-to-love character and witty interactions with the audience.

This adaptation by Laura Eason and director Theresa Heskins has the audience leaving with smiles on their faces.

It’s a production that would have swept Jules Verne away, I’m sure.

*Around the World in 80 Days is playing at The Lowry, Salford until Sunday, January 7. You can buy tickets HERE.

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