Can the North/South divide ever be bridged?

Can the North/South divide ever be bridged?

Robert Tanitch reviews Invincible at St James Theatre, London SW1

Ellie Jones’s extremely well cast production of Torben Betts’s much praised new play, has successfully transferred to London from The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond. I hope it does well. It deserves to. I think it is going to prove very popular with professional and amateur actors.

Invincible is a classic confrontation between the middle-classes and the working-classes. Oliver (Darren Strange), a former civil servant and his partner, Emily (Laura Howard), artist and political activist, are victims of the recession. Short of cash, they move out of London and relocate up North.

They want to make friends with their working class neighbours, Alan and Dawn; but the quartet has nothing in common. The North/South divide could not be wider. Emily’s embarrassingly insensitive straight-talking rubs everybody up the wrong way; and that includes the audience. Oliver is not as nice as he seems.

Basic CMYKThe comedy gets serious and springs a number of surprises. There is a wonderful comic/sad performance by Daniel Copeland as Alan, a postman, a fat slob with a bellyful of beer, but a thoroughly decent chap, who knows he is boring. His unhappy wife (Samantha Seager), a dentist’s receptionist, wants to better herself but she won’t ever get the chance to do so.

The Orange Tree has been doing excellent work for the last 42 years in its charming in-the-round theatre in Richmond. It is one of the very few theatres where you can regularly catch up with neglected plays by famous neglected British playwrights from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. My theatrical knowledge has been much enhanced by its repertoire. I was much saddened to hear that it had lost its Arts Council grant.

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