The Invisible Man

Derek Webb after H G Wells
Our Star Theatre Company
Cotswold Playhouse, Stroud

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Now you see him: Eleanor Catherine Smart, Daniel Davies (TIM) and Sophie Watkins Credit: Our Star Theatre Company
Sophie Watkins (Doctor) Credit: Our Star Theatre Company
Gotcha (or not) Credit: Our Star Theatre Company
Eleanor Catherine Smart (Mrs Hall) and Daniel Davis (Constable) Credit: Our Star Theatre Company

H G Wells wasn’t the first writer to toy with the idea of invisibility, but it was via his 1897 novel that it has most fired the imagination. It certainly fired mine at the age of ten with thoughts of all the naughtiness invisibility might bring.

Naughty or nasty? Having lost the formula to make himself seen again, The I…….. Man (I’m tempted to call him Tim for short) uses his power to steal, assault and terrorise the populace. Or, because this adaptation by Derek Webb, directed by Ben Mowbray, is a comedy, pinch bums and pull himself a few pints along the way.

And if an empty rocking chair or a wine glass in the air are not enough to persuade an audience of his transparent eminence, there is the soundtrack of—you’ve guessed it—"I ain’t got nobody".

Unfortunately, the punchline of the song is "Nobody cares for me", and I found the script sadly lacking in good gags.

An exuberant cast, Daniel Davis, Eleanor Catherine Smart and Sophie Watkins, who take on 15 roles, deserve credit for confidence and maintaining a high pace throughout. Watkins is a talented performer, coaxing the best out of the piece. At other times, it would have been better to let the words take care of themselves, without assuming funny voices in an attempt to infuse some life support.

The touring production may yet win over audiences in intimate venues such as the splendid Cotswold Theatre. As I left, a neighbour said the show was "hilarious." Some may agree, but as for me, the humour largely remained as invisible as the man himself.

The show tour continues to Burnham-on-Sea, Minehead, Honiton, Ledbury, Barmouth, Bridgnorth and Bromyard until 30 November.

Reviewer: Colin Davison

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