Torben Betts’s astute new play...this strongly cast four-hander which, directed by Ellie Jones, is both highly entertaining and tense...a vibrant combination of a play of ideas and a comedy of bad manners...startlingly raw. Darren Strange’s floundering, conciliatory Oliver is hilarious then shifty, and Samantha Seager’s tarty Dawn plumbs unexpected emotional depths. Invincible is a feather in the cap for Sam Walters, the UK’s longest-standing artistic director, and it could well transfer to the West End from his farewell season at the Orange Tree.
KATE BASSETT ★★★★ TIMES
Class is the engine driving much British drama. It is certainly the motivating factor in this abrasive comedy by Torben Betts that deals with the disruptive impact of a bourgeois couple on their working-class neighbours. And if one detects the influence of Alan Ayckbourn, with whom Betts worked in Scarborough, that is an unequivocally good thing... Betts has caught the mood of the times... Immaculate performances... The only mystery about Torben Betts, whose fourth play this is at the Orange Tree, is why his perceptive social commentaries are not better known. He should be a bigger name.
MICHAEL BILLINGTON ★★★★ GUARDIAN
This hilarious new play... Not much theatre makes me laugh out loud continually but Invincible, a spiky new comedy of culture clash and embarrassment from Torben Betts, is a rare and cherishable example.
FIONA MOUNTFORD ★★★★ EVENING STANDARD
Vastly entertaining, deftly acted production that moves fairly effortlessly from high farce to pathos.
SUNDAY TIMES ★★★★
Torben Betts's latest work begins as robust social comedy and then shades into something darker and more disturbing. Fresh and punchy. Written firmly in the Alan Ayckbourn tradition, it manages to have its fun with stereotypes while dismantling them and in the process becomes a keenly perceptive play-for-today... The cast expertly tread the line between hilarity and heartache... More than ever, we see in the post-recession times depicted here, it's those with inherited wealth who will inherit the earth.
PAUL TAYLOR ★★★★ THE INDEPENDENT
Betts puts cultural and class contradictions in a room together over one night and, inevitably, hilarious and excruciating sparks fly. But Invincible is infinitely more subtle than pitting ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ against each other. The characters are exceptionally well-developed and from the initial stereotypes, believable souls begin to emerge. Without feeling burdensome, the play goes some way to demonstrating how government policy affects people from different socio-economic backgrounds. But it also becomes a piece about neighbourliness, kindness, about war, fighting for your country and not being truthful with yourself.
DAISY BOWIE-SELL ★★★★ TIME OUT (St James)
Torben Betts successfully skewers class tensions and the north/south divide...a blistering contemporary tragi-comedy masquerading as a traditional boulevard sitcom.
MICHAEL COVENEY ★★★★ WHAT'S ON STAGE (St James)
...a refreshing Ayckbourn-style comedy...
QUENTIN LETTS ★★★★ DAILY MAIL
Torben Betts’ sharp, funny play wrings plenty of droll comedy out of the class mismatch of the two couples...a state-of-the-nation play and as such is packed with thorny issues... Fine performances find the pain beneath the initial parody.
★★★★ FINANCIAL TIMES
...a joy... full of wit and bravado, fun and anger. Riotous fun. Catch it if you can.
ANN TRENEMAN ★★★★ TIMES (Northampton)
...this funny, awkward and moving play...a sharply observed bittersweet comedy about class and economic prejudice... Simply superb.
ANNE COX ★★★★★ STAGE REVIEW
Invincible is a beautifully crafted multi-layered comedy that is thought-provoking and wonderfully entertaining.
THE STAGE (St James)
Betts weaves in a delicious set of lies and circumstances that everyone avoids, or, better yet, ignores, and turns some of the evening into a farce of clockwork cunning and impregnable implausibility. It is a construct of dazzling economy and is beautifully timed and served by its cast.
...a hilarious and moving play, complete with strong performances from all members of the cast...a great play that accurately and brilliantly chronicles the differences, similarities, highs, and lows of north and south, and creates both humour and pathos in doing so.
A YOUNGER THEATRE
Torben Betts’s devastating comedy is a glorious reminder that sharp theater is alive and kicking. Invincible will make you laugh, break your heart and leave you gobsmacked... With storylines driven by cracking dialogue and divergent quirkiness, Invincible has a tender urgency borne of something deeply human. Do see this one. It’s the bee’s knees.
THEATER PIZZAZZ, NEW YORK
...darkly comic fun.
...a caustic comedy about country and class...the stuff of great theater.
NEW YORK TIMES
Torben Betts’ hilarious comedy may draw you in with its rare laugh-out-loud script, but it sustains with unexpectedly moving twists and a deeper exploration of happiness, discontentment and the grey areas between... His writing is clever, poignant without being overly emotional, fiercely witty and spot-on observant. Forget the stand-ups at the Edinburgh Festival, you need look no further than the St James Theatre for your comedy fix this summer.
OFFICIAL LONDON THEATRE
...this fantastic production...this politically charged, kitchen sink drama unfolds magically, delicately, with perfectly placed humour yet enchanting truth and relevance...surprisingly unpredictable twists and turns...tinkers savagely between your belly laugh and tear ducts...the work at hand here is some of the best our London fringe, and now the larger St James has ever seen. A highly recommended show.
The real brilliance of this piece comes through the way Betts deftly merges the extremes of human nature into a melee of genuine laughter from the audience as well as real sadness...a great comedy drama that is all at once a snap shot into society, what it means to live in the twenty-first century as an adult, as well as posing questions to us all about what the future holds and what we can do to improve it for generations to come. Invincible is well worth a watch and the performances by all four cast members are superb.
Torben Betts’ hugely witty piece reveals a series of twists and turns that have the audience moving from tears of laughter to just tears with its unexpectedly heart-wrenching second act...Torben Betts is continually likened to Alan Ayckbourn and Mike Leigh, and justifiably so. His writing is clever, poignant without being overly emotional, fiercely witty and spot-on observant. Forget the stand-ups at the Edinburgh Festival, you need look no further than the St James Theatre for your comedy fix this summer.
OFFICIAL LONDON THEATRE
...a high-class play... Torben Betts can be likened to greats such as Alan Ayckbourn, Tom Stoppard and Alan Bennett who emerged as contemporary, controversial playwrights in the 1960s... Highly recommend.
EXETER EXPRESS & ECHO ★★★★
...a mouth-watering mix of Alan Ayckbourn, Edward Albee with a side salad of Educating Rita...I hope Invincible has another life beyond the St James. It’s a real commercial crowd-pleaser. Any theatres that need fillers in the West End?
TERRI PADDOCK, FOUNDER OF WHATSONSAGE.COM
...in this well-deserved West End transfer, what is striking is the political undertow of Betts's play...an evening that is as surprisingly funny as it is moving.
JEWISH CHRONICLE ★★★★
A great play: Invincible impresses at every turn...tears-in-your-eyes-laughing moments, leaving the audience squirming in their seats...this wonderful play...if a television show was this funny, it would be trending on Twitter by now.
RICHMOND AND TWICKENHAM TIMES
This is a sitting-room comedy that crosses genres to become both hilarious and moving.
BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE
Invincible is funny, it’s heart-breaking, thought-provoking and ultimately great entertainment – what more could you ask for?
EXPRESS & STAR (LICHFIELD)
A delightful class-based comedy with a dark heart...compelling comic drama...a highly skilled writer...there can be no doubt that this is a subject, and a play, that will merit revisiting time and time again.
THE ARTS DESK
Betts’ intelligent dissection of social class, relationships and loss in contemporary Britain...finely-written... Ellie Jones’ thoughtful direction draws out the many levels of Betts’ intricate script... a clever blend of poignancy and humour... Invincible is a powerful, intimate piece that showcases the talents of each and every individual involved in the production. A must-see!
PLAYS TO SEE
With nudge and punch expertly probing lives’ surfaces...by turns comic and piercingly serious... It’s a sign of quality writing that Betts makes the unseen characters, all sharing similar fates, vital and significant... Invincible’s a dramatic wolf clothed like a cuddly sheep, bringing its own sharp bite.
I laughed until I cried...this immaculately crafted tragi-comedy... Highly recommended.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECHO ★★★★
Torben Betts’ new play is an artfully constructed piece that draws on familiar comic conventions to both feed and diffuse the ensuing drama. Themes of confusion, loss and vulnerability are developed through achingly awkward exchanges and what appears to be a convoluted social comedy gradually takes a darker turn...there is dissatisfaction bubbling under the surface here in a play which is as much about perspective as it is about class or comedy. A delicious treat.
The Ayckbourn overtones of Ellie Jones’s production are unmistakeable, as contemporary debates play out as an awkward living-room culture clash... Betts confronts thorny contemporary issues head-on...farcically funny... It’s an impressive Samantha Seager, as Dawn, who really sells the complicated gut-wrench of a life pinned to hope without prospects.
TIME OUT (Orange Tree)
Invincible is entertaining, hilarious at times, very dramatic and ultimately invites the pity and fear that Aristotle associates with tragedy...Betts has a brilliant capacity for writing lively and entertaining dialogue.
An incredible piece of theatre which is not only hilarious but also heart-warming and thought-provoking..
THE REVIEWS HUB ★★★★
Torben Betts' play makes for an entertaining evening... the play's emotional register hurtles up and down, even as the meticulous plotting keeps the action compelling... Invincible reminded me how theatre, in the moment, can be purely experiential.
WHAT'S ON STAGE ★★★★ (Orange Tree)
...a play which is entertaining, thought-provoking and has a heart...this stunning new play.
...the play is successful in almost every individual moment...a very entertaining evening.
...this terrific play...genuinely beautiful as well as sharply perceptive.
LIBBY PURVES ★★★★ THEATRE CAT
A superb play...with an outstanding cast.
WEEKEND NOTES (LICHFIELD) ★★★★★
...this superb play and outstandingly-acted revival.
...this original, contemporary, thought-provoking, profound, witty, highly entertaining, totally absorbing drama had me hooked from that opening scenario to the very end. Awesome.
...a rollercoaster of shattered dreams... a thought-provoking, hilariously funny, tragically sad, political and emotional play.
SCARBROUGH EVENING NEWS
Torben Betts mines a rich seam with a supremely dark comedy... Abigail’s Party with knobs on...wonderful, cringe-laden stuff...This is a brilliant piece of theatre and not to be missed.
...a play which is entertaining, thought-provoking and has a heart... It can be viewed as an Abigail’s Party for the 21st century, a play which addresses the concerns of its time in a perceptive and highly entertaining way.
EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES
Refreshing, original and, above all, highly entertaining.
...a four-hander, quite dark in places, excruciatingly funny and beautifully observed...
If you like Ayckbourn or Alan Bennett – you’ll love this.
A gem of a production.
EAST HAMPSHIRE ONLINE
...a riveting, intriguing entertainment that packs a real punch.
A superb piece of theatre.
THE REVIEWS HUB ★★★★★
Hilarious and devastating.
BUM ON A SEAT
...provocative and thought-provoking...a touch of Alan Ayckbourn about it, with its splendid observational charm, along with the grit of Mike Leigh. It will make you cringe, laugh and cry in equal measures.
...demonstrates the North/South cultural divide with comic performances and heartfelt back stories...a real rollercoaster.
...an incredibly thoughtful piece of new writing...it isn’t just London folk who can explode into fits of genuine laughter and even tears in response to what Betts calls his ‘entertaining tragedy’... The collective genius of Torben Betts’ writing and Stephen Darcy’s directing is immensely powerful... When they seek to make us laugh, we roar hysterically and when they want to shock us, we are left horrified and devastated to the core. It is incredible how the piece achieves such a wide range of responses in such a short period time – and it is incredible how effortlessly it makes us feel human.
A remarkable piece of writing that surprises at every turn.
This is a perfectly balanced four-hander...Dawn and Alan are two master class creations...the writing is clever, the dialogue is impeccably observed and the performances are invincible.
THE HUNTS POST
This superb play.
WEEKEND NOTES, LICHFIELD ★★★★★
Superbly written... a wholly entertaining yet emotive show that reminds us why we love the theatre...this show should absolutely be on your summer must-see list.
Funny and poignant.
A SEAT ON THE AISLE, NEW YORK
...every performance is pitch perfect...there are many great moments in Invincible, but in particular Betts does a wonderful job of connecting his layered, complex, damaged characters on multiple levels in unexpected ways.
WOMANAROUNDTOWN, NEW YORK
Invincible offers plenty of opportunity for laughter in its clash-of-the-cultures comedy, but also surprises you with plenty of touching drama and food for thought.
THEATER IS EASY, NEW YORK
FULL UK REVIEWS
Read Michael Billington's **** Guardian review
Read Kate Bassett's **** Times review
Read Daisy Bowie-Sell's **** Time Out review
Read Anne Cox's **** Stage review
Read Fiona Mountford's **** Evening Standard review
Read Paul Taylor's **** Independent review
Read Michael Coveney's **** Whatsonstage review
Read Sarah Hemming's **** Financial Times review
Read Patricia Nicol's **** Sunday Times review
Read Quentin Letts' **** Dail Mail review