Inventive production lifts Phileas Fogg to new heights
Panto came early to Warwick Arts Centre with Laura Eason’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic Around the World in 80 Days.
The story of Phileas Fogg’s attempt to travel around the world in 80 days to win a bet for £20,000 with his fellow card players at London’s Reform Club, is told with energy and humour.
Fogg is accompanied by his newly- appointed valet Passepatout whilst being pursued by Inspector Fix who thinks Fogg is a bank robber. A cast of eight play over 120 characters as we witness a race around the globe by trains, boats, an elephant and a sail-powered sledge. All the transport is inventively portrayed by the cast with the help from just a few props and occasionally from members of the audience.
The simple effects of rocking chairs and tables to bring life to the boat scenes are timed to perfection to make the most of the slapstick humour. The numerous fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed as the protagonists engage each other metres apart with perfect timing. There was plenty of laughter from the audience which included many children as the show is well suited to families. Andrew Pollard as Phileas Fogg does an excellent job as he moves from being an aloof Victorian gentleman to a more considerate and compassionate person as a result of his travels (and rescuing Mrs Aouda, well played by Kirsten Foster.
Michael Hugo brings a lot of humour to the role of the valet Passepartout, and engages well with the audience, getting the front row involved at various times.
Dennis Herdman is a good classic comedy villain in the role of Inspector Fix . The rest of the cast amazingly move energetically from character to character, country to country and one mode of transport to another. Despite being fast-paced, at times it still felt a bit like a long journey and possibly could have benefited from being a bit shorter.
However it was very enjoyable and was certainly good family fun!