REVIEW: Invincible, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Elizabeth Boag and Graeme  Brookes in Invincible
Elizabeth Boag and Graeme Brookes in Invincible

Spoiler alert – there are no spoilers in this review. But that does mean plot details will be thin.

What can be said is the play packs a punch – political and emotional.

Torben Betts explores the north-south divide in the story of Emily and Oliver a London couple who, hit by the recession, move north.

They rent a house next door to Alan and Dawn – a salt of the earth couple born and bred in the town they still live in.

Emily and Oliver invite their neighbours round for ‘drinks’ – Dawn and Alan think lager and vino – Emily serves green tea. Emily and Alan both paint – her Jackson Pollack-like abstracts go for £1,000 a piece, his cat portraits you wouldn’t use as kitty litter.

You get the idea – the first half explores the differences between the two couples to hilarious effect.

There are subtle seeds sown for what is to come in the second half – when Betts explores the notion of what divides us pales into insignificance beside what unites us.

The second half of the play is rollercoaster of shattered dreams, splintered relationships, ambitions, grief, happiness, children and a dead cat (one spoiler, sorry).

The acting is superb – from Alistair Whatley’s self-centred ‘it’s cold up north’ snob Oliver to Emily Bowker’s Marxist mixed-up, messed-up Emily.

Graeme Brookes gives his beer-bellied, lager-swilling, football-fanatical postman real depth and dimension.

Elizabeth Boag is outstanding as Dawn, the flirty, fiesty, flat-vowelled glamourous mum. You laugh with her and when the veneer and varnish come off – weep with her, too.

She is every Corrie heroine from Elsie Tanner to Bet Lynch rolled into one.

Invincible is a thought-provoking, hilariously funny, tragically sad, political and emotional play with four likeable flawed characters at its heart trying to get by, and may be ahead, in a changing, violent, unsettled and unsettling world.

Though set a few years ago, its themes have as much resonance now as they did at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

It can be seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, today at 1.30pm and 7pm, tomorrow at 7.30pm and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Tickets: 01723 370541 or online at www.sjt.uk.com