Review: Around the World in 80 Days at The Lowry

  • Based on the world famous novel by Jules Verne
  • Northern Quota reporter Jess Stoddard reviews the show direct from the West End
  • ★★★

The mysterious and fabulously wealthy Phileas Fogg wagers his life’s fortune that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days with his assistant Passepartout.

With eight actors playing more than 1,250 characters, travelling around the world on six trains, five boats, four flights, performing three dances, two circus acts and an elephant – all in the space of two-and-a-half  hours – is not an easy task!

This fast-paced production serves its Christmas residency at The Lowry.

The set is very clever – with a suitcase staircase and umbrellas as the hand rail, we get taken to everyplace in this book within seconds. The constant ticking of a clock takes us back to 1872 London with Victoria suits and Eliza Doolittle-like characters. The costumes throughout the show are beautiful, with world-map prints being used for dresses, waistcoats and accessories, all creatively designed by Lis Evans.

There are simple costume changes to transfer the audience around the world, from berets in France to kimonos in Japan. The set and the use of the suitcases throughout the performance allowed the audience to use their imagination, from storing props to constructing a train and a ship. A giant world map provides the backdrop to the set and it’s a never-ending reminder of Fogg’s impressive journey around the globe.

The show is very physical theatre, with storytelling through movement, sound and speech, directed by Theresa Heskins. Taking inspiration from Fogg’s line, “Everything will be arranged with mathematical precision”, the movement choreographed by Beverley Norris Edmunds, the piece is funny, precise and well executed. With the transitions between the chapters of the story running very smoothly, the only thing that would make it better would be having the interval a little earlier, as it felt like a very long first act. The show really lifts off the ground when they embark on their journey, with  quick set and costume changes keeping the audience engaged.

The storytelling is wonderful and the highlight has to be when they create an elephant on stage only using a jacket and some suitcases! 

Fogg is performed by Andrew Pollard, perfectly showing his cleverness, sophistication and slight awkwardness. The show stealer is Michael Hugo as Passepartout, with displays of acrobatics, guitar playing and great comic timing, as well as the hilarious versions of his name thrown out throughout the show. His improvisation with the audience is great, as he creates songs unique to audience members. The ensemble have the most work to do, with some many costume changes and characters to play, they never let their energy slip. The sound by James Earls-Davis supports the storytelling wonderfully. 

This show takes the audience on a manic journey of the world, being both educational and throughly entertaining. If you want to see a show this Christmas, but don’t want to go see a panto, this is what you need to see!

Until 7 January.