Fun Fact! Voyages Extraordinaires author Jules Verne is one of the most translated authors in history.
The French novelist is known for his fantasy adventures, such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas and Around the World in Eighty Days. While his works have been translated a lot, the prolific writer’s works have also been the inspiration for many adaptations, for the screen, stage, music, and radio.
If it’s not obvious from the title, Journey to the Centre of the Earth is exactly that, the journey of Professor Otto Lidenbrock who discovers an ancient runic manuscript detailing how to travel to the centre of the earth. Otto, along with his nephew Axel head off on this adventure encountering all sorts of wild creatures, volcanos, underground rivers and so much more! It’s an entertaining romp with a simple premise.
Melbourne comedy duo Innes and Lloyd, consisting of David Innes and Robert Lloyd, draw inspiration from Verne for their Adelaide Fringe show taking on the Verne classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The pair have adapted the story themselves for the stage, presenting their production in The Alley Cat at Adelaide’s famous Rhino Room.
This was my first time attending a show at Alley Cat, and at first, I was a little shocked at the size of the room when I first entered! It was small! Some would call it a shoe box, but I feel matchbox is a much more fitting description. About the size of a single car garage, the room seats around 20 patrons, with a small stage at the front of the room. While this may be daunting for some, I found it created a very intimate atmosphere and a unique experience, drawing the crowd into the show and promoting crowd participation throughout.
The stage setup is simple. We have 2 stools and an easel with a large art pad perched upon it. The pad is like a third character in the show, guiding us with its titles and images contained within, which also helps set the different scenes. Innes and Lloyd grace the stage dressed in waistcoats, dress shirts and pants, looking incredibly sharp and oozing with confidence. A bowler hat sits on the head of Innes and the outfits transport us back in time to the late 19th century. I really loved this aesthetic and thought it suited the story so well.
Innes and Lloyd are two incredibly talented men. Lloyd takes the lead of the show as Professor Otto. He is a fantastic and charismatic actor, very well spoken and incredibly funny, often riffing with the crowd and just generally exuding great energy. Innes is a little more traditional with his acting chops and very expressive with his facial gestures, but together the pair are incredible and make the ultimate dynamic duo.
The two men gel flawlessly with their act and lovingly tell this classic story with great ease. I particularly liked how passionate they were but yet at the same time, they didn’t take themselves too seriously and at times happily took things off script, making the show more dynamic and enjoyable. I have personally never read a Jules Verne novel but I loved their storytelling. You don’t even have to be a big fan of the work they’re retelling, since they make it so easy to follow, and it’s so much fun to watch as everything unfolds. Innes and Lloyd aim to please.
Innes and Lloyd’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth is an entertaining, smart and hilarious adaptation, serving up a bizarre fever dream that will have your ribs and face hurting from the laughs. With their gripping stage presence, natural chemistry happily bouncing off each other, and infectious humour, the pair are superbly talented. I cannot wait to see what other stories they put their creative and clever spin on next!
Innes Lloyd: Journey to the Centre of the Earth is now on at The Alley Cat, The Rhino Room, as part of Adelaide Fringe 2023, until March 12th.
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Photography by Mark Gambino.