Monday, 14 July 2014

Invincible Review

by Torben Betts

Yorkshire Tour De Farce

We like to wear our learning lightly here at TLT Towers, that’s TLT and her petite bagnole.  So this just might be, in this fast-moving media age, the world’s first post-Thomas-Piketty-Capital-in-the-21st-century play. 

Not that we’ve actually read this current favourite of the chattering classes - a French book analysing  global economics - only the reviews. But as part of Ye Olde Internet Guild of Theatre Bloggers, founded some time between the Frankish Empire and – ahem – July 2014, we’ll always promote our own trade and tradesmen ... ;)

Anyway, a genteely shabby London couple (Darren Strange and Laura Howard), with two children in tow, give up the cost-of-living struggle in the capital (no pun intended) and move to Yorkshire, hoping to integrate with their neighbours by plying them with wine, olives and 16th century church music

The ex government PR man, Oliver, and the left wing misanthropic painter, Emily, are confronted with rotund postman and would-be artist Alan (Daniel Copeland), who wisely brings his own beer, and dental assistant Dawn (Samantha Seager), Yorkshire’s answer to an Essex girl. 

And there’s the rub – there’s a bellyful of laughs, juicy situations whet the appetite and very canny direction by Ellie Jones draw us into the characters’ psychic space.  But finally the stereotypes win out and the characters fail to engage in a coherent meaty dramatization of unfairness and the family divides the play so nicely (and often hilariously) sets up in the first act. 

The naïve gulf between contemporary London and a Yorkshire town and tragic twists feel a little contrived. While the Piketty elements are there –  a widening gap between rich and poor actually rooted in inherited wealth via a salaried route rather than entrepreneurial nous - some curiously dated elements turn the play’s ending into a rather spiteful face-value equivalent of a drunken middle class lottery fantasy wish fulfilment.  

Yet the entertainment value remains high, and, even if the story ultimately feels underachieved,  it scrapes through into a green light with playwright Torben Betts’ witty dialogue plus excellent directing and acting sustaining the evening. In fact, we think we may be looking forward far more to Mr Betts's next play than Monsieur Piketty's next book unless the latter manages a few more gags. ;)

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