Andrew Pollard as Phileas Fogg and Michael Hugo as Passepartout
Andrew Pollard as Phileas Fogg and Michael Hugo as Passepartout
© Andrew Billington Photography

Whether you think of August as the holiday season or the silly season, the Royal Exchange has pitched its programming perfectly with family show, Around The World in 80 Days.

It is the theatre's first co-production with the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle under Lyme, which has already staged two successful runs, and comes to the Exchange tightly polished.

Adapted by Laura Eason from Jules Verne's 1873 novel, it tells the story of Victorian gentleman, Phileas Fogg, who after reading about advances in transport has calculated that it is possible to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days.

So convinced is he, by the mathematical precision of the concept, that he bets his entire fortune, not only that it can be achieved but, that he will do it.

Accompanied by his French valet, Passepartout, Fogg sets out with a timetable meticulously planned to the second. Unfortunately, what Fogg hasn't accounted for is that half of India's railway is yet to be built, and that is only the start of his problems.

What follows is a real journey of the imagination as director Theresa Heskins takes us on a thrilling ride across the continents at breakneck speed, with a cast of eight constantly recreating their roles to portray more than 100 different characters.

The adventure is brought to life by an energetic and talented cast, headed by Andrew Pollard as the eccentric yet stable, Mr Fogg and Michael Hugo, who is brilliantly comic as his side-kick, Passepartout, whose fighting skills are of superhero proportions.

The pair are stealthily pursued by Inspector Fix, who Dennis Herdman cannily turns into a pantomime villain the audience love to hate. And the light audience participation, draws everyone in to the fun of the show.

Lis Evans design may be sparse, but it is incredibly inventive, and works wonderfully with the playfulness of the show as Fogg makes his way by train, steam boat, sledge, and even an elephant.

Movement director, Beverly Edmunds has done a terrific job in creating a feel of the characters' movement across the different landscapes, while James Earls-Davis transports us there in sound.

The result is an all round success that well deserves its packed houses. It's a sheer delight that will not only take you round the world, but will make you feel like a child again.

Around the World in 80 Days is at the Royal Exchange Theatre until 16 August