Who doesn’t love elephant poop?
The pachyderm poop gag was just one of many features in this light-hearted, gaffe-filled adaptation of Jules Verne’s comic Around the World in 80 Days that made my 9-year-old son laugh out loud. My son had loved Verne’s book when we read it together (even with its 1873 language); seeing dexterous actors play it out live was a treat.
Back to the poop: It comes up (well, really out) in one of many adventures protagonist Phileas Fogg has when he makes a gentleman’s wager at his London club in 1872 that he can travel around the world by steamer and rail in (you guessed it) 80 days. Trouble comes when a London detective trails him, believing Fogg to be a suspected bank robber.
The poop came from the elephant (depicted ingeniously on stage as a kind of cart with a strategic flap in back) that Fogg had to hire in India to take him and his traveling companions to Allahabad when it turned out the much-heralded railway across the country was, in fact, missing a big stretch of rail. His trusty servant Passepartout, whose French accent reminded me of Peter Sellers playing Inspector Jacques Clouseau in “The Pink Panther” movies, juggles the poop onstage, inciting roars of laughter.
The story features bandits, a damsel in distress, and many transportation mishaps from Suez to San Francisco. The five actors play 39 different characters, which only adds to the play’s madcap feel. (My son liked tracking who was who.) Sets are simple, but very creative and effective. Spoiler alert: In the end, love prevails and the international dateline helps Fogg win the day.
Parents should know
There are a few “damns” in the play, a scene where Passepartout smokes opium and a shoot-out (no casualties depicted, more like a goofy Western).
As for age recommendation, the myriad visual gags are easily accessible to elementary-schoolage kids and the storyline is straightforward. If you aren’t sure about the appropriate age for this show, check out the detailed production preview.
If you go ...
When and where: Around the World in 80 Days runs through March 1 at the Francis Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N. Issaquah. It also shows in Everett from March 26-29.
Tickets: Buy online; prices range from $35–$67.
Tips: No babes in arms in the main house of the theatre; the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre has a family room for those with children ages 4 or under.
Snacks and meals: The theater is connected to Fins Bistro which lets adults pre-order cocktails for the 20-minute intermission. You can also pre-order from the dessert menu. Bottled water, candy, coffee and tea are available for sale in the lobby. Cash only. The theater is near several eateries, including Domino’s Pizza, Confetti Cupcakes, Yum-E Yogurt, and many other choices,
Parking: There is plenty of parking, all within a short walk to the theater.