Review: Around the World in 80 Days at Cambridge Arts Theatre - A triumph that had the audience on its feet

Around the World in 80 Days at Cambridge Arts Theatre

Around the World in 80 Days at Cambridge Arts Theatre - Credit: Archant

This play is a treat and by the end it had the audience on its feet.

It’s a tall order for eight actors to play 125 characters, create scenes in eight countries, on six trains and five boats, break out into four fights and summon up a circus and an elephant but it was all done with ease, perfect coordination and immaculate comic timing.

This is a touring stage version of Jules Verne’s novel, ingeniously adapted by Laura Eason and adroitly directed by Theresa Heskins.

Some of the performances are breathtaking - all of them are delightful.

Verne’s book, published in 1873, tells the story of a London gentleman, Phileas Fogg, who makes a bet with his friends in the Reform Club for £20,000 that he can go round the world in 80 days.

So he and his French valet, the incorrigible Passepartout, set off that same night. Of course, along the way, they miss connections, have to rescue a maiden in distress and worst of all, Phileas is pursued by Inspector Fix from Scotland Yard, who believes Fogg is on the run after robbing the Bank of England and therefore conspires to delay him at every turn.

A lot of the comedy is carried by the rubber-limbed Michael Hugo as Passepartout to whom circus skills are a mere bagatelle. He could do the show standing on his head and he does sometimes. Dennis Herdman is superb as the scheming but blundering Inspector Fix. A lot of the physical jokes in the show are not brand new (any more than they are in pantomime) but they are created with such panache and aplomb that they come as a surprise and are really funny.

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Andrew Pollard and Kirsten Foster are excellent as Phileas Fogg and Mrs Aouda, the Indian lady he rescues. Pushpinder Chani, Matthew Ganley, Joey Parsad and Nyron Levy are impressive as a multitude of characters with a kaleidescope of bearings and accents.

Plaudits to Beverley Norris Edmunds for the clever choreography and the inspired fights. The show is a triumph, a compendium of comedy and it would spoil the fun to give too much away. It is suitable for all ages - see it at least once.