A TOUCH of festive magic arrived at the Liverpool Playhouse last week in a show that is utterly delightful from start to finish.

Around the World in 80 days is pure escapism from Kenny Wax and Simon Friend.

It's well worth waxing lyrical about this family show packed with zest, sparkle, wit in abundance ... well, the list goes on.

Mime, acrobatics, slapstick, fun and frolics in every single scene courtesy of eight on-stage actors who are having a ball.

There's also a clever piece of audience participation.

This is magnificent achievement from the eight versatile artists playing 125 characters in over two and half hours.

A truly electrifying ensemble piece.

Full credit to the creative team behind the scenes keeping the action flowing on designer Lis Evan’s set featuring suitcases doubling as a staircase and modes of transport in front of a huge backdrop map.

Costumes are inventive, too, Just like Mr Fogg's globe-trotting itinerary, every stage of the journey in this slick, bright and breezy production has been given a great deal of thought resulting in a well-crafted show for anyone over seven years of age.

The imagination flood gates are opened and there is never a dull moment in Laura Eason's adaptation.

Wealthy Phileas Fogg (Andrew Pollard) wagers his life's fortune that he can circumnavigate the planet in just 80 days following a bet with those stuffy types in the Reform Club He recruits a very loyal French valet, Passepartout (Michael Hugo) and off they go on an adventure that would make Michael Palin envious from Victorian London to the exotic sub continent, the Wild West, Liverpool (yes, indeed) and New York in a wacky race against the clock.

It involves six trains, five boats, four fights, three dances, two circus acts and an elephant.

Mr Hugo's is wonderful Passepartout he not only gleefully breaks the fourth wall – he smashes it.

There was also romance along with some lovely incidental music and laugh-out-loud sequences bursting with cartooon-esque silliness.

Director Theresa Heskins' celebrated New Vic theatre production in association with the Royal Exchange in Manchester only ‘stopped off’ in Liverpool as part of a major six-month UK tour.

Those lucky people in Salford will have it as their festive show at the Lowry.

In the programme notes Joey Parsad who plays Mrs Singh (amongst others) reveals what she would advise any of the audience should they wish to undertake a round-the-world trip.

"See the beauty the world has to offer and remember it through your own eyes! Not just those of a phone or camera - be open to cultures and people. Listen to their incredible stories." 

I can see the ghost of Jules Verne tip his topped hat in agreement.

I would not hesitate to get a ticket and join Phileas and his travelling companions again.

World class

Five sparkling stars