Theatre Review: Remarkable Invisible by Laura Eason

Ian Barritt (Dr. Peter Solverson). Photo by Keith Pattison

By Ken Powell

The plot to this last production from Theatre by the Lake for the Summer season was not one I thought I would look forward to.

When you have children who are pretty much grown up and not far from moving on to lives of their own, watching a play about aged parents downsizing and their grown children coming back to help pack, stirring up buried issues along the way, is not a prospect you relish. It’s too close to home. So, it was with some trepidation that I sat in TBTL’s Studio theatre, looking at half-packed boxes in the stage area and awaited the beginning of this four-man play.

By the end, I was both surprised and confused with how I felt. The story was much lighter than I feared it would be: I imagined dark secrets emerging of scandals and abusive or controlling parents or something Arthur Miller-like along these themes. Instead the issues raised were relatively calm and there was no sense of impending doom. This was a remarkably pleasant production and the lack of melodrama made it one I suspect many families can relate to.

Yet the play wasn’t superficial either. The themes it discussed or implied certainly got me thinking and applying not just to my own family life but to those of others I know too. Laura Eason (best known for her work on House of Cards) pitches the level just right to make sure Remarkable Invisible gives an audience things to ponder on without depressing every parent present. This is a play which is real.

All four actors also appear in TBTL’s Handbagged – which for me is the best of the season and hilarious – and the contrast could not be more apparent.  Alice Selwyn’s role as the daughter, Astrid, is as extremely emotional as her portrayal of Thatcher is brilliantly cold. Ian Battitt (playing the father, Peter) and Matt Addis (the son, Chistopher,) who make a superb double act in Handbagged, here are distant and separate for most of the play. The two plays, more than any other combination, truly reveal the versatility of these season’s cast at TBTL. Addis and Selwyn truly shine here.

Alice Selwyn (Astrid Solverson), Matt Addis (Christopher Solverson-Chase). Photo by Keith Pattison.

All in all, Remarkable Invisible is a production which borders on being beautiful. It’s real without being covered in grime. There’s a fondness and a sense of hope as these four characters deal with change and a realisation that, ultimately, family is family and always will be. It’s not often you can say this of a production from the TBTL Studio, known for serious and weighty stories, but Remarkable Invisible is a delight. Really.

‘Remarkable Invisible’ plays in the Studio until 4 November. Book tickets online at www.theatrebythelake.com or call the box office on 017687 74411.