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Invincible: Lichfield - Theatre Review

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
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Class And Culture Collide As Middle-Class Couple Move North
One of the main characters of Torben Betts's critically acclaimed play is a football fanatic. So it seems somewhat appropriate to describe this dark comedy about two completely contrasting couples as a 'play of two halves'. Emily and Oliver find themselves having to abandon their middle-class London lifestyle and relocate to a small town in the north of England after Oliver loses his civil service job and can no longer afford to live in the capital. One night they decide to invite their working class next door neighbours, Dawn and Alan, round for herbal tea and olives. But over the course of a disastrous evening it soon becomes obvious that the two couples are separated by a huge cultural and class divide.

LtoR Emily Bowker as Emily, Graeme Brookes as Alan, Elizabeth Boag as Dawn and Alastair Whatley as Oliver. Credit Manuel Harlan

The hilarious events that follow, involving the qualities of Karl Marx and abstract art versus the England football team, provide plenty of laughs as Emily tries to mix with 'real people' in the form of her new neighbours. But, without giving too much away, the second half of this superb play takes on a far darker tone when past secrets are revealed and events lean towards the tragic. Invincible, which is produced by the excellent Original Theatre Company, is currently enjoying a successful second national tour, which includes its current run at the Lichfield Garrick theatre from Tuesday 21 March to Saturday 25 March. It will then be heading off to America when Invincible performs at the 13th annual Brits Off Broadway festival in New York from June 1 to July 2.

Elizabeth Boag as Dawn and Alastair Whatley as Oliver. Credit Manuel Harlan

Invincible, which is directed by Stephen Darcy benefits from an outstanding cast of just four actors. Emily Bowker superbly takes on the role of the highly emotional and highly opinionated Emily who doesn't believe in home ownership or marriage, while Alastair Whatley splendidly plays her seemingly long-suffering partner Oliver who desperately tries to make her happy. Into their lives come the brash, busty, beautiful dental receptionist Dawn, wonderfully played by Elizabeth Boag, who has lived on the same street all her life, and her football mad, beer-drinking but big-hearted postman husband Alan, also well played by local actor Graeme Brookes.

Alastair Whatley as Oliver and Emily Bowker as his partner Emily. Credit Manuel Harlan

Invincible continues at the Lichfield Garrick theatre until Saturday 25 March 2017. Tickets costing from 22.50 can be booked online or by calling the Box Office on 01543 412121. It then moves to the Theatre Royal Brighton from March 28 to 30 and the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme between April 4 and 15, before later heading off to New York for its Broadway run.

Emily (Emily Bowker) welcomes neighbours Dawn (Elizabeth Boag) and Alan (Graeme Brookes) to her home. Credit Manuel Harlan

Rating: 5 out of 5
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Why? Superb Comedy Play Lifts Lid On Class Divide
When: 21 - 25 March 2017
Phone: 01543 412121
Where: Lichfield Garrick, Castle Dyke, Lichfield WS13 6HR
Cost: Lichfield tickets from 22.50
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