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Around the World in 90 Minutes?

December 9, 2010

Meat & Potato Theatre

Around the World in 90 minutes? Be sure to pee beforehand because there won’t be any stops along the way or intermission for that matter… Just an intense 90 minutes going from London to London via Hong Kong. Meat & Potato Theatre has brought yet another classic to the stage in a raucously funny translation by Marynell Hinton, Sebastien Azzopardi, and Sacha Danino of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. If you’ve ever read the novel, then you are aware of the pages and pages of the adventures of Mr. Fogg and his foolish yet loyal French traveling companion/servant Passeportout (pass-por-tu). Their goal is to win a bet that they can indeed travel the globe over in, you guessed it, 80 days. Please keep in mind that the year is circa 1872 and although trains were available one was not able to simply board a private jet and cruise to Bombay in one afternoon.

While it is a tale told time and again, this version blended topical humor with the same old tricks. Start with a mid- 19th century train add several references to the Jersey Shore and sprinkle a dash of local flavor jokes (you know the kind that poke fun at those mormons and conservatives) and you might just forget what year it is. Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t for the faint of heart as the jokes are sometimes cheap shots banking on stereotypes and smart-ass allusions. Kind of like live trivial pursuit, go prepared knowing your references of pop culture, history, and literature and you’ll be rewarded for your knowledge with some gut-busting humor. If not, it will still be a good show, but you might wonder what everyone else finds so funny.

Although all the actors involved did an excellent job, Kirt Barnes had the most note-worthy performance in his multiple roles. His acting consisted of everything from the scrawny pinched-faced English government official to the sailor with “slight” homosexual tendencies. But no matter the part, he was invested from head to toe with brilliant comedic timing. Susan Maurer (the only female ensemble member) represented well with some wonderful dialect work. The director, Tobin Atkinson, paced the show with quick pick-ups and no moments pause on stage so that the 90 minutes flew by as quick as Passeportout (William Richardson) running from the natives.

Meat & Potato Theatre, although only in its second year locally, continues “telling compelling stories in the most powerful ways possible” and are an asset to our growing arts community here in Salt Lake.

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