Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

The Invisible Man

Hall Green Little Theatre


It is hard to see what the fuss is all about, but I suppose that is the point, you just can’t see it at all, that’s the problem with the invisible man, he’s there or maybe he’s not, who knows?

It is not the easiest play to produce after all the eponymous character is . . . well, invisible . . . if he is there at all, and half the time you have no idea one way or the other.

Derek Webb’s play sticks to the original H G Wells story . . . in much the same way that Patrick Barlow sticks to John Buchan’s original tale of The 39 steps; the plot is there, in the background, but the tale is played out strictly for laughs.

Thus we have a cast of three – four if you count the invisible bloke, but as we only see him in the buff at the end, which, appropriately, is also his end, appearing like a print in a tray of developer as life drains out of him, we will leave him in peace.

His name, by the way, is Griffin, and he has invented a formulae which changes his refractive index and loads of technical stuff no one understands, but clever as he is, he has managed to lose the recipe to reverse it so has become a sort of unseen force.

Oh, and, perhaps I should mention that he is not the nicest bloke in the world, so is not averse to a bit of murder here. We first see him, or rather we don’t, just a coat and a head wrapped in bandages, as he arrives at Mrs Hall’s inn in Ipping to rent a room to start his experiments to rediscover the formulae for reversal.


Enter the hirsute Steven Brear as our lady innkeeper, this in the days before Immac was invented presumably, although it does mean Mrs Hall had a ready made career in the circus as a bearded lady if the pub business failed, and Brear also pops up as the ever so Welsh Rev Bunting, then sails in as an ancient mariner with an accent as broad as the Atlantic, a paper  boy and finally Dr Kemp a former colleague of Griffin.

Not that he was alone in the crises of identity as Matt Ludlam excelled as first the station master, just to get us started, then Fearenside the arthritic, bent double removal man carting in Griffin’s luggage, the up market Dr Cuss and the tramp Thomas Marvel, who could be very funny, a sort of Marvel Comic . . . all right please yourself.

He also represented the law as the judge Shuttlefoth, and speaking of the law, Mike Parker was saying ‘evening all’ as PC Ffyes, PC Jaffers and head of police Col Ayde, the characters notable mainly for their change in headgear, at a moments, or rather a cue’s notice with Cuss, Bunting, Marvel etc all noting the remarkable similarity between the trio of members of HM Constabulary.

It is a play which demands some quick costume changes, or hat changes in Parker’s case, and slick set changes and director Paul Holtom has kept both the set and special effects simple which in turn makes them effective – much less to go wrong.


It meant that the flow, by and large, was uninterrupted while the simple effects all worked without mishap, starting with a suitcase floating across the stage and adding little touches as we went along such as glasses of beer draining themselves.

And there are some lovely comic touches where we, the audience are let into the jokes of the quick changes. We know it is the same actor in a frock or a dog collar so why not make a joke out of it.

Opening night saw a few moments of hesitation and delay which is the nature of the beast when it comes to a first live show with such a fast moving script awash with costume and character changes.

But, by that same very nature again, the pace will soon pick up with first night under the belt and the natural rhythm takes over for what is an entertaining and fast-moving evening. I hesitate to say it is one to see as . . . well you can’t see much of it at all, but the 75 per cent that is visible is good fun . . . if you see what I mean. To 08-02-20.

Roger Clarke


Wells original had its darker side and a political edge, encompassing Well’s views on capitalism and society which troubled him all his life.

His Griffin was stealing from banks, the faceless, unseen bankers, people he saw as stealing from society – explained in a speech by Griffin which offers a serious political view behind the anger and frustration of our mad scientist, a speech devoid of any humour and perhaps a little out of character with the rest. Griffin is no longer just trying to survive as he tries to make himself visible, he is making political statements, taking political action.

Wells was a socialist, ‘too sane to understand the modern world’ according to George Orwell. He is known for his novels but he was much more than that with his The Rights of Man laying the groundwork for the Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN, he was a co-founder of the Diabetic Association and a force behind the League of Nations.

Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate