First we meet one couple, then another, and by the time “Invincible,” a play by Torben Betts, is in full swing, there are dramatic fireworks for all concerned. Part of of the Brits Off-Broadway series, the entertaining and incisive drama is being presented by The Original Theatre Company and Ghost Light Theatre Productions.
I say drama, but there is a lot to laugh at in the close-up portraits of the characters depicted, even though the overview becomes very serious. Directed by Stephen Darcy, with the original direction by Christopher Harper, the play set in a small town in northern England deals with such subjects as political views, war, class, marriage and infidelity. The ease with which all is integrated not only stems from the savvy play text but on the four excellent actors who make the characters come vividly alive.
The two with whom we first become acquainted are Emily (Emily Bowker) and Oliver (Alastair Whatley). Emily, who paints, is extremely radical; she thinks the British Labour party is much too conservative, far from the Marxist views she holds. She takes pride in her dedication to being truthful in contrast to the dishonesty she sees as corrosive. Her avant-garde, abstract paintings are visible on the walls.
Oliver, a much more reserved type, has to contend with Emily’s very nervous state. She despises his dying mother as a right wing evangelist. There is a telltale line in which she informs him that she is trying to get “beyond sex.” That immediately signals trouble in paradise. They argue considerably about politics, given Emily’s extremism.
The couple has invited neighbors for a visit and the first to arrive is Dawn (Eiizabeth Boag), a shapley number who is wearing a sexy, revealing red dress. The sight of her is extremely erotic for Oliver, obviously frustrated given Emily’s attitude toward sex. Emily looks appalled at Dawn’s provocative image.
We next meet Dawn’s husband, Alan (Graeme Brookes), an over-the-top type who dominates the room with his crassness. He trumpets his patriotism, and is proud of a son who is serving in the British armed forces. Alan is certain he will come home in glory. Dawn doesn’t believe the lad should be risking his life.
Alan paints too, and there is hilarity when he produces the paintings of his beloved cat (the cat becomes a major part of the plot). The paintings are awful, but to Alan they are works of art, in contrast to the displayed abstract work by Emily that completely puzzles him.
Alan makes the mistake of asking for an unvarnished opinion of his paintings from Emily, and when, truth teller that she professes to be, she says he has no talent, that ignites a firestorm of ill feeling. It turns out that she insists on Oliver telling the truth about another matter that could unleash even worse results.
That is as much plot as you’ll get here. There are relationship ramifications all around as the play intensifies. The four actors are terrific and keep us involved. With the Brits Off Broadway series one can generally count on such acting expertise. At 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street. Phone: 212-279-4200. Reviewd June 14, 2017.