Invincible – reviews of Torben Betts's 'punchy' social comedy

Jul 21, 2014

State-of-the-nation play is packed with thorny issues beneath 'laugh-out-loud' comedy

James Albrecht
What you need to know

Torben Betts's social comedy Invincible has transferred to St James Theatre, London. British dramatist Betts's play premiered at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, last year.

When the recession prompts middle-class couple Emily and Oliver to move to the north of England, they try to get to know their new community. But they are not prepared for the culture clash when they invite working class neighbours Alan and Dawn over for drinks, nor for the discovery that their fates are linked.

Elli Jones directs a cast including Darren Strange, Laura Howard, Samantha Seager and Daniel Copeland. Runs until 9 August.

What the critics like

"Betts's sharp, funny play" wrings plenty of droll comedy out of class mismatch, says Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times. This state-of-the-nation play, packed with thorny issues under the cover of comedy, receives a witty production that shifts to become surprisingly moving.

This spiky new comedy of culture clash and embarrassment from Torben Betts made me "laugh out loud continually", says Fiona Mountford in the Evening Standard. The four performances in this ebullient and surprisingly poignant production are of the very highest order.

"Betts's latest work begins as robust social comedy and then shades into something darker and more disturbing," says Paul Taylor in The Independent. This "fresh, punchy production" expertly treads the line between hilarity and heartache.

What they don't like

This "defiantly old-fashioned drama" trades on easy stereotypes and trundles on some obvious jokes, says Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph. There's nothing especially real about the characters or Betts's sitcom-ish humour, but as astringent summer froth it's still well worth a punt.

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