Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Invincible Never Lets up on Laughs or Poignancy

Invincible is a story that explores our views and expectations of others in the current political dynamic. Amazingly, Invincible does this with a large dose of humor, running from oddly quaint and British to dark humor that is jet black. And the four excellent actors deliver the show with honesty and surprising clarity.
Invincible tells the story of middle class couple Oliver and Emily, a British version of Yuppies, but who are hit by economic forces and move to the North of England to save money. Alastair Whatley is the rather put upon Oliver, trying to juggle the new location along with Emily’s fragile mood swings, two children and a lack of funds. Emily (Emily Bowker) is a nervous, strident old school Laborite, who still spouts Marx when she isn’t berating the downfall of the world, based on whatever floats into her view. Emily is that horrible person at a party who still believes everything she heard in university and insists on sharing her views with you. Onstage, Emily is funny and awful, in person Emily would be insufferable.
LtoR Emily Bowker, Graeme Brookes, Elizabeth Boag and Alastair Whatley in Invincible (photo:
Trying to fit in to the block, they invite the next-door neighbors over, Dawn and Alan. Elizabeth Boag and Graeme Brookes bring a loveable quality of terrifying honesty to this funny working class couple. Dawn finds Oliver and Emily posh, but confusing. Alan shows up post-soccer match with a can of beer and insanely high spirits. The culture clash is inventible and hilarious. The British markers for class are copious and broad: cricket versus football, esoteric music, distain for sports patriotism, public versus neighborhood schools, the list is long and Invincible references many of them.
But, slowly and slyly, Invincible changes the focus from easy jokes to human interaction. Not the assumed “we’re all the same underneath”, but a more difficult and painful truth that maybe we grown so far apart economically and socially that we it is almost impossible to connect. In the US, this divide runs politically, but a similar divide indeed.
The second act of Invincible is touching and funny, but I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t. I will say it is beautifully directed by Stephen Darcy, who varies the pace of the show effortlessly. Torben Betts writing rings true to me, but I haven’t lived in England in 30 years, so other would know better than I. Invincible is a hugely enjoyable play that doesn’t skimp on story, laughs or a proper ending.
Invincible | Playwright: Torben Betts | Director: Stephen Darcy | Cast: Elizabeth Boag, Emily Bowker, Graeme Brooks, Alastair Whatley | website

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