Playwright Torben Betts mines a rich seam of misconceptions about the great north-south divide in his comedy Invincible which is set to tour the UK this spring.
It scored a huge hit with audiences when it first appeared at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre and again when it transferred to St James Theatre, London (read our verdict bit.ly/1oHL0Qv).
Now the Original Theatre Company and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds are taking the play on its first national tour, directed by Christopher Harper. It begins at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds on March 30.
With the recession biting hard, Emily and Oliver have decided to downsize and shift their middle-class London lifestyle to a small town in the north of England.
One night, they open their doors to their next door neighbours, Dawn and Alan. Over the course of a disastrous evening of olives, anchovies, Karl Marx and abstract art, class and culture collide, resulting in consequences that are both tragic and hilarious.
Torben Betts said of the new production of his play: “I’ve always been impressed by Original Theatre Company. I’m delighted they are touring Invincible this year.
“It is, among other things, a play about the North/South divide so it will be interesting to see what audiences away from and north of London make of it.”
Torben Betts was born in Lincolnshire and studied at Liverpool University. He became the resident dramatist at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1999.
Poet and dramatist Liz Lochhead said Betts “is just about the most original and extraordinary writer of drama we have.” His play, The Unconquered, won Best New Play 2006/07 at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland.
Last year saw a revival of his acclaimed play, Muswell Hill, at London’s Park Theatre; his latest work, What Falls Apart, opened at Newcastle’s Live Theatre, and his version of Chekhov’s The Seagull was staged at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
He has also adapted Get Carter for Northern Stage in Newcastle, where it opens in February before embarking on a major national tour.
Director Christopher Harper said: “In 2009, I was in a very dark and edgy play of Torben’s about a man and wife moving in together, just as my wife and I first moved in together. And she was cast as the wife!
“Invincible is lighter and a brilliant, fast-moving story, but Torben’s uncanny ability to depict life and find both the dark and the hysterically funny hasn’t changed. We all know people like the four in Invincible.”
“When you watch you’ll have your head in your hands, you’ll cover your eyes, you’ll grip your seat and punch the air. It’s a masterpiece of comic timing, one-liners and heart-breaking loss.”
Karen Simpson, Director of Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, said: “Torben Betts’ play is a great piece of new writing from one of the UK’s most talented contemporary playwrights and we are really excited about touring it nationally.”
2016 TOUR SCHEDULE
March 30-April 2, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds April 5-9, Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford April 12-14, Hull Truck Theatre April 19-23, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich April 26-27, South Hill Park, Bracknell April 28-30, Mercury Theatre, Colchester May 2-4, Gala Theatre, Durham May 6-7, Stamford Arts Centre May 10-14, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne May 17-21, Birmingham Repertory Theatre May 23-24, Theatre Royal Winchester May 26-28, Key Theatre, Peterborough June 7-11, Exeter Northcott Theatre June 14-18, Festival Theatre, Malvern.