Long before fleets of cruise ships and tour buses roamed the earth, most people could only imagine travelling to far off, exotic places. Author Jules Verne helped fuel those imaginations with a series of popular books including one called “Around the World in 80 Days.”

The Public Theatre of Lewiston has opened its 21st season with Mark Brown’s 2001 stage adaptation of Verne’s famous travel adventure. In Brown’s version, the “Days” of the title could easily be replaced with the word “Gags” as this show is more about the comedy than it is about the adventure. Though perhaps running just a bit too long for this sort of show at nearly two-and-one-half hours, Friday’s opening performance delivered a world of laughs to a large, multi-generational crowd.

As in “The 39 Steps,” which has been making the rounds of local theaters recently, “Around the World” employs a small number of actors in a  large variety of roles. Robin Bloodworth, David Mason, Michael Frederic, Audra Wahhab and Dan Matisa worked hard but appeared to have a lot of fun in doing it. As in the classic Carol Burnett show, there were mutual crack-ups and seeming ad-libs along the way, from a cast that’s required to throw themselves into numerous character and corresponding accent and costume changes.

Monty Python and Benny Hill are also comic references that came to mind as customs officials, police, sea captains, military officers and judges are encountered by Phileas Fogg (Bloodworth) when he seeks to win a bet that he can circumnavigate the world by train, boat and elephant (no balloon for this version) in a record time by 19th century standards.

Fogg and his entourage encounter a variety of eccentrics (and a few stereotypes) as they pass through many places and cultures by land and sea. The on-the-move segments are brought to theatrical life through sound effects and imaginative choreography of a sort that mimics the jostle and roll of life in motion.

Director Janet Mitchko, staff and cast have impressively put together a laugh-filled light entertainment. Why not start the season with a road trip?

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.