Daring audiences to embark on their own adventure, Around the World in 80 Days, comes to the Leeds Playhouse pop-up theatre where Leo Owen caught the show

WITH its cast of four playing multiple parts, this adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days is so stripped back it could be performed in someone’s living room; the show is clearly designed with the community tour in mind that it’ll soon embark upon.

A large clock and cogs dominate the set, emphasising the time constraints characters are up against, once the bet has been made, to travel the world in precisely 80 days. Objects likes stepladders and globes are piled at the back, almost reminiscent of an attic, utilised throughout this very physical production.

Jules Verne’s original novel spans over 10 different countries so Adapter, Toby Hulse, and Director, Alexander Ferris, both utilise location boards, music, signposting dialogue and costume changes a-plenty to help their audience follow these time zone shifts. Their emphasis is on a few props, instead focusing on the power of the imagination and simple story-telling. It is perhaps for this reason that Jules Verne (Dan Parr) himself is cast in the play, watching from the audience, annoyingly stopping the play while prompting laughter from those more appreciative of slapstick humour.

Running slightly tiresome hot air balloon gags feel too forced to be funny but there are some clever directional decisions, such as a children’s slide symbolising an elephant’s trunk. Musical numbers are nicely harmonised, especially in the opening British music hall song “The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” and Bing Crosby’s “Beautiful Dreamer”.

Unashamedly ridiculous, poking fun at itself and almost pantomime in style, Around the World in 80 Days is clearly aimed at families. Lacking in the lion, cat and panther princess of the 80s’ animated series Around the World with Willy Fog, this flat adaptation is unlikely to enthral but as The Playhouse’s pop-up theatre nears its end, it’ll at least provide those without the means to travel a chance to witness the world in their own communities.

Around the World in 80 Days shows at The Leeds Playhouse April 9-28: