Invincible is the story of Emily and Oliver, a mismatched couple who decide to move up north to raise their family when the recession means they can no longer afford their London lifestyle. It is equal parts heartwarming, hilarious and thoughtful, documenting the shift in culture the pair experience as they invite their new neighbours, Dawn and Alan, round for olives and (non-alcoholic) drinks.
Torben Betts’ script is outstanding, combining humour with real moments of touching poignancy. Each of his characters fills a distinct purpose and personality, and the inner workings of these four people together makes for a fascinating social situation. The tension and conflict created by not only the north/south divide between the characters, but also between each couple’s personal situations is a delight to watch. With the first act very humour focussed, it makes the dramatic revelations in act two all the more impactful and leaves you with much to consider.
Each member of the four-strong cast is fantastic, doing more than justice to the strong sense of character created for them by Betts’ script. Graeme Brookes is excellent as Alan, really bringing the main comic character of the play to life. Emily Bowker is also commendable as her namesake Emily, demonstrating both her passionate political views and her slightly softer side with equal finesse.
The set by Victoria Spearing is charming, with a miniature town made of colourful wooden blocks adorning the front of the stage through which a tiny train weaves to mark the start of the play. Behind this is the main set, a cosy family home with some lovely exposed brickwork and white painted wooden doors (similar to those that can be found in my own home!). Tim Speechley’s lighting also plays an integral part, with a large backdrop indicating night and day along with characters switching on and off lights in order to set the right mood.
Wholly entertaining and entirely charming, Torben Betts’ Invincible is well worth a watch. It’s emotional without being too heavy, and funny without cheapening any of the social comments it’s trying to make. Go to have your heart simultaneously warmed and broken.
Invincible is playing at the Mercury Theatre until 30th April, and is touring the UK until 18th June.