The Invisible Man by HG Wells adapted by Derek Webb. The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 to 4 January 2020. 4****. William Russell.

The Invisible Man
By HG Wells adapted by Derek Webb.
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2JH to 4 Jan 2020.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm.
Runs 1hr 50 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 13 December

A trio of versatile actors and brisk and inventive direction make this out of the usual show – a nicely witty take by Derek Webb on a hoary old classic – a splendid Christmas treat. The invisible man is a scientist whose experiments have gone wrong and, having found out how to turn himself invisible is unable to work out how to resume his normal shape. Wells was making some serious points about society at the time and the things the Man got up to – he stole money from banks for instance and was out to break the capitalist system along the way, a loner taking revenge on a society which does not understand him and misusing his powers. Some of that lingers if you want to look hard but basically Webb has come up with a funny, and under Kate Bannister’s adept direction, fast moving show with some nicely defined characters for the cast to play. Enjoy the jokes and if you get the message later, well that is fine. But you are not being lectured at.
Lots of quick changes are involved, much walking off one way as somebody and coming back from another one, usually the other side of the stage, as someone else, and to add to the fun there is a sign post with a life of its own to tell us just where we are at any given time. One thing to relish is when the Man is invisible and merely a Voice how the Voice moves so that it comes from different directions – as often at the Jack the Sound Designer is Philip Matejtschuk. Matthew Parker, returning to the stage after a 14 year gap, has some splendid moments, but best of all is his Mrs Hall, the big bosomed and venal landlady of the Coach and Horses with whom the Man lodges although his Vicar whose pants keep falling down – terrible underwear – comes a close second hotly pursued by his one eyed sea dog. Scott Oswald, plays everything from a railway porter to the Man’s unwilling sidekick with great style, and Shaun Chambers gets to play the Man – a nicely sinister figure – and some not too intelligent and very funny Bobbies trying to solve the crimes being committed. They could not be bettered. Add a neat set by Karl Swinyard which allows them to run on and off as required and you have all the ingredients for a plum pudding seasonal treat.
Griffin, PC Jaffers, PC Fyffes, Colonel Adye, Bystander: Shaun Chambers.
Mrs Hall, Reverend Bunting, Dr Kemp, Mariner, Paper Boy: Matthew Parker.
Porter, Fearenside, Dr Cuss, Marvel Shuckleforth: Scott Oswald.

Director: Kate Bannister.
Set Design: Karl Swinyard.
Lighting Design: William Ingham.
Sound Design: Philip Matejtschuk.
Costume Designer: Martin Robinson.
Fight Director: Keith Wallis.
Production photography: Davor @The Ocular Creative.

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