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Invisible Me – Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

There’s such a pervasive misery in the first few minutes from Lynn (Debbie Christie), Alec (Andrew Fettes) and Jack (Philip Gill) that it was a long time before I warmed to anything that was going on, however positive their later experiences were. Lynn is unhappy with – well, everything, but there appears to be a particular emphasis on pay and working conditions as a cleaner. Alec has grumbles about things not even worth regurgitating here. At least Jack is going through loss and bereavement, so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, though even he says something bizarre about having to fill in a form to obtain a ‘Freedom Pass’, as if it were compulsory. It isn’t, of course, and there are some older people who choose to pay for their travel on public transport, and have their reasons for doing so, whether it’s personal dignity, being financially comfortable, or something else.

Debbie Christie, Invisible Me (credit Su Gilroy).
Debbie Christie, Invisible Me (credit Su Gilroy).

The ending is as convoluted as the beginning, with a rather sudden conclusion that neither ties up loose narrative ends nor ends in a cliff-hanger, and it’s one that comes rather later than the advertised sixty-minute running time. Whilst the stories are sufficiently detailed to easily follow, they also raise questions that remain unanswered by the end of the show. For instance, why does Lynn, with her miscellaneous grievances about her day job, not give it up when she is persuaded to pursue a different career path that provides us, in her own words, with more money in one shift than she would otherwise have made in a week? Was Alec really not savvy enough to have even the slightest inkling as to what was really going on when a woman young enough to be his offspring starts chatting him up?

The characters’ stories are very different, though they have a common theme, in that a midlife crisis is, at least at face value, resolved through sexual intimacy. Some of the descriptions – for once, exposition over dramatization is preferred (there are no pants down demonstrations here) – are rather crude. Nothing was ever offensive, but merely unfunny. This may have contributed to my difficulty in fully engaging with the play – it was too tame, not wanting to rock the boat too much, and could have been edgier.

I wasn’t too keen, either, on the stereotypical portrayal of older people’s handling of modern technology – repeated references are made, for instance, to “the Facebook”, a punchline that quickly wore thin. Mind you, they all embraced, one way or another, the world of online dating, without being stitched up by undesirable or dodgy folk (or at least not admitting to it). Some sparing interaction between the characters feels somewhat contrived. But the strength of the actors’ talents, who do their best with what they are given, are evident, as are attempts to maintain interest through sustained direct addresses to the audience.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Three very different individuals are united by sex: Lynn, a hotel cleaner, lives alone in her mother’s house; Jack, an HIV+ recent widower, struggles with the concept of digital dating; and Alec, a divorcee with an identity crisis, clutches at his youth. But despite their hardships, there’s a prevailing message of optimism to be found in the most unlikely of situations.

Writer Bren Gosling
Director Su Gilroy
Lighting Design Chuma Lighting Design
Producers Backstory Ensemble Productions Ltd.
Cast Debbie Christie, Andrew Fettes, Philip Gill

Invisible Me
Friday 3rd – Saturday 11th September 2021
Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre, 93 The Broadway, London SW19 1QG

Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre London Tickets


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