Theatre review: Invincible, Ace Centre, Nelson

INVINCIBLE is at the ACE Centre, Nelson until Saturday.
INVINCIBLE is at the ACE Centre, Nelson until Saturday.

The Garrick's second play of the current season was a new play "Invincible" by a prolific, yet relatively unknown author, Torben Betts.

Last night's very full house was treated to a gem of a play creating very many laughs along the way.

In this new play, Betts shows what happens when Oliver Stephen Claxon), a middle-class freelance writer, and his partner Emily, (Kate Hodkinson) a strongly ideological left-wing advocate, respond to the change in their economic circumstances after the recession of 2008 by relocating, along with their child, to the north of England.

Naturally, they want to become involved with the local community, amongst "real people" as Emily suggests, so they invite Alan, (Paul Higginbottom) a working-class postman, football mad, with a taste for beer, and his mini-skirted wife, Dawn, (Victoria Connolly) to their house for a social evening (despite the fact that they have given up alcohol).

Put cultural and class contradictions in a room together over one night and inevitably, hilarious and excruciating sparks fly. It showed how government policy affects people from different socio-economic backgrounds. But the play is also about neighbourliness, kindness, about war, fighting for your country and not being truthful about yourself

It also exposes both some serious issues. In the first place, Alan turns out to be a Sunday painter, who enjoys his hobby of painting his pet cat. A clash occurs when he asks Emily, who is not only strongly socialist but also an advocate of avant-garde and abstract art, to comment on his talent. She’s unimpressed – and says so.

Interspersed with the laughs in the second half are surprising depths of tenderness and poignancy, as Dawn and Alan’s backstory is expanded and Emily is temporarily silenced in her tirade against the “banks and corporations”.

In Carolanne Connolly's production we had ensemble playing of the highest order, and whilst some first night nerves might have got in the way, the play was strangely apposite in the light of the debate in the House of Commons discussing whether or not to become involved in the war in the Middle East.

The ending did leave the audience somewhat dumbstruck, but there is no doubting that this is a play that will stay in the memory for some considerable time.

INVINCIBLE is at the ACE Centre, Nelson until Saturday.