Invincible at St James
The most astonishing thing about this fantastic production is that a matter of weeks ago Orange Tree Theatre had its bed of funding swept from under its feet just as the new artistic director Paul Miller took over. The Arts Council removed its status as a National Portfolio Organisation and it will cease to be supported from April 2015. Watching this politically charged, kitchen sink drama unfold magically, delicately, with perfectly placed humour yet enchanting truth and relevance, you cannot help wonder: why?
The cast are pitch perfect. Every line, thought and feeling is delivered with precision and honesty. Our northern couple Dawn and Alan (Samantha Seager and Daniel Copeland) are a charming contrast to our highly strung Emily and her ever suffering partner Oliver (Laura Howard and Darren Strange) who have just moved into the Lancashire area, for the “cheaper rent” and to patronisingly “give back” to the “real people’s” community. Copeland really shines as Alan while Seager has the most impressive journey as Dawn. Howard’s Emily goes from nought to sixty in the matter of a line as her intense engagement with the world crashes into her, and Strange is just everything you want him to be in his role as Oliver. The cast’s choices are detailed and invested and it is fantastic to watch their work.
Torben Betts’ writing creates such relatable stereotypes to start off with before smashing their walls with surprisingly unpredictable twists and turns. Our assumptions are squashed, our empathies are pushed and pulled at an electrifying rate and Ellie Jones’ direction tinkers savagely between your belly laugh and tear ducts.
If there were to be any fault in the show, it is the seemingly forgetfulness of the ever mentioned children asleep upstairs throughout, and yet raised voices occur often and there’s no concern in keeping them down. Emily and Oliver’s rented property must have incredibly thick ceilings – but this is simply nitpicking because the work at hand here is some of the best our London fringe, and now the larger St James has ever seen. A highly recommended show.
Invincible is on at St James Theatre from 10th July until 9th August 2014, for further information or to book visit here.