Saturday, 12 July 2014

Review: Invincible, St James

“We want to live our lives on a more human scale”

Back in 2012, Laura Howard gave a truly exceptional performance in Lost In Yonkers, something truly unexpected in its devastatingly deep emotion and so the thought of being able to see her onstage again was an exciting one. Sadly for me, her choice of return to the London stage was a farce, Torben Betts’ Invincible to be precise, which played Richmond’s Orange Tree earlier this year, making it easier for me to ignore. It has now however transferred to the St James thus wearing down my resistance, if not my natural antipathy to this form of theatre.

And sure enough, it really just wasn’t my cup of tea. A domestic farce taking Ayckbourn as its inspiration, a middle class London couple Emily and Oliver relocate to the working class north and they don’t automatically get on with their neighbours Dawn and Alan – such larks! Everything is up for debate - art, the war, politics, the financial crisis, family – and everything has deeper meaning than at first glance – both Emily and Alan paint, the patriotism here is personal, parenthood is precarious on both sides.

But it is all just so schematic, the division between those sides so ham-fistedly executed and the characterisations all sides so crudely drawn that I found it impossible to engage at all in Ellie Jones’ production. Performances can’t be criticised as Daniel Copeland and Samantha Seager as the Northerners and Laura Howard and Darren Strange as the Southerners all manage to excavate some kind of meaning out of the cliché-ridden construction but as the play winds to its distasteful conclusion, I was definitely left wishing I’d heeded my initial instincts about Invincible. 

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 9th August 


Anonymous said...

This review makes absolutely no sense. The word farce does actually have a meaning- it's not just a catch-all term for any sot of theatre you dislike - and Invincible is by no stretch of the imagination a farce.

The fact that he got such a basic thing wrong should make the reader suspicious of everything else this reviewer says. I'm not generally dismissive of bloggers and online theatre reviews, but this might be one time to pay more attention to the broadsheet reviwers who understood this play a lot better.

Ian said...

Thanks for your thoughts.
I'm not generally dismissive of commenters but when they hide behind anonymity, it might be time to pay more attention to people who aren't afraid to own their opinions.