Pros: All four actors offer fantastic performances. Daniel Copeland’s rendition of Mr Postman is one of the highlights!
Cons: Some of the characters become frustrating to watch as the play goes on.
Following a successful run at the Orange Tree Theatre earlier this year, Torben Betts’ Invincible premiered this week at St James Theatre. It tells the story of a middle-class couple Oliver and Emily, (Darren Strange and Laura Howard), who move up North with their two young children after Oliver is made redundant. The play revolves around the differences between the classes as Londoners Oliver and Emily struggle to fit in with their new working class neighbours. The economic hard times affects their neighbours too, and the lack of jobs means that Dawn (Samantha Seager) is now only working part-time as a dentist receptionist while her husband Alan (Daniel Copeland) works as a postman.
Desiring to be good neighbours, Oliver and Emily invite Alan and Dawn over for drinks shortly after they have moved in. When Dawn appears in a tight coral coloured outfit, contrasting with Emily’s home-made flowing ankle length dress over leggings and a long sleeved top, it is clear that the two families come from completely different worlds. In fact, the awkwardness between Dawn and Oliver as they are briefly left alone had some audience members tittering nervously as the two struggled to find things that they had in common.
When it is revealed that Alan has a passion for art, he asks Emily as a fellow artist for her opinion on his work of his cat; a cat that Emily hates as it spends most of its time wandering around her garden, vomiting on her herbs). This brings up the age-old conundrum; does Emily give her honest opinion of Alan’s dreadful artwork (particularly given that he’s told her he’s at his happiest when painting), or does she go against her own belief that honesty is the best policy and lie so as not to hurt his feelings.
Whilst all actors do a fine job, I found myself sometimes getting frustrated with Emily’s character. Her one-track mind discredits all other ways of thinking if they do not agree with her beliefs. Oliver as a wet blanket is equally as frustrating and you wish he would just manage to get a single sentence out without being interrupted by his partner. This is no doubt the way these characters are written and their annoying traits are no doubt deliberate, however for me personally this makes the play less enjoyable to watch as I am distracted by my annoyance.
As the night progresses things seem to go from bad to worse. As tension between the two families reaches boiling point, Oliver decides that life up North doesn’t suit him and tells Emily they are relocating back to London. Director Ellie Jones keeps the pace steady and drama and comedy are perfectly balanced throughout, with bellows of laughter rising up from the audience several times during the performance. As a result of the good production value and great performances from the actors, the piece on the whole is a very powerful one and the second act in particular is filled to the brim with drama and emotional upheaval.
Author: Torben Betts
Director: Ellie Jones
Producer: Orange Tree Theatre production
Booking until: 9 August 2014
Box Office: 0844 264 2140
Booking Link: http://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/events/invincible/