The Invisible Man @ Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Theater Artemis' production of The Invisible Man plays with perspective in a fresh manner, making its audience invisible to the cast onstage
There seems to have been a mistake with this evening's bookings – the audience haven’t turned up. The clowns are waiting, the crew has set up, and they’re all eager to begin. That is except for Rob, who would rather avoid the show entirely.
Theater Artemis' show The Invisible Man has an unusual twist: the audience are present but we’re invisible, at least to all but Rob. To his delight, with no visible audience, the cast begins to strike the set, hunt for crew members and lament their failed show. With a whisper Rob lets us in on the secret, teasing the cast while inviting children onstage to help him in his amusements.
Performers René van ‘t Hof, Marijn Brussaard and Nimuë Walraven convey a dry sense of humour with thier mime artistry; Van ‘t Hof is already inspecting the seats as we wander into the theatre, and all three ensure the set aligns with the lighting rig, test out seats (even if occupied) and naturally, run to and from the bar. The Invisible Man has few boundaries – the height and breadth of the entire theatre is a playground for the artists to strike absurdist chaos. From phantom pianos to floating coffee cups, this is absurdist theatre at its finest. A plethora of tricks are set in store for the (missing) audience, such as mime ladders causing the set to wobble or a white blanket being presented as a ghost.
If you aren't reminded of silent era movies, the works of Buster Keaton or the world of vaudeville, you're probably one of the kids in the audience. For the rest of us, the heart of this production lies in its beautifully rendered nostalgia. Composers Arend Niks and Keimpe de Jong provide a score which sets the tone beautifully, performed by Rob’s hidden fingers.
With lofty technical ambitions, The Invisible Man takes measurable steps to keep the magic hidden. For the most part, it works miraculously. On occasion, an exposed thread hangs precariously in view, but such errors are saved by performers who quickly transform them into gags.
Embracing farce, The Invisible Man sits squarely in the category of children’s entertainment that would amuse audiences of any age. Conceptually, its simplicity is the key to its success. By relying on timeless tricks and the power of suggestion, The Invisible Man is a lovely production that amuses and delights.