It’s almost a hundred and twenty years since H G Wells‘ The Invisible Man was first published in serialised form, and as with many of the works of “the father of science fiction,” it has been adapted a great many times since in many forms across different mediums, sometimes faithfully, sometimes less so.
Presenting their own version at the Edinburgh Fringe, Blabbermouth Theatre are open and quite rightly unapologetic that the source novel was little more than an inspiration for the production, but shifting the narrative forward five decades and changing the setting has allowed them to craft their own unique vision of the man who cannot be seen.
It’s Chicago as seen through the lens of film noir, a dirty city and no place to raise kids, and Detective Dick Kemp is in the midst of “a nightmare, the kind you don’t wake up from.” The name of that nightmare is Gus Griffin, the invisible man, but although Griffin is now in fact quite literally transparent, for most of his life he has effectively already been in that state.
An account working for Invisible Ink Inc, he was overlooked by his employers, and though he was dating a dame named Denise she was more interested in cooing over her beloved fox fur than talking to Gus. “I was seeing her, but I got the impression she never saw me.” Fired by his overbearing boss, Denise and Foxy leave him, and in despair he drinks a bottle of his own product and is never seen again.
With Griffin presented as an empty suit manipulated by the other actors while his voice is spoken into an old-style stand microphone elsewhere on stage and live music is performed, on the whole the cast are good although sometimes the energy overwhelms the focus, some lines gabbled when they should be enunciated, and certainly more stylised performances would not be out of place given the chosen tone of the production.
While the promised “finger-clicking” soundtrack is somewhat undermined through no fault of the performers by the fact that it is virtually impossible to actually click fingers while wearing opera gloves, given a longer run this would have become a sharper show, but it is already clear that the ideas and talent are present to develop this into what it quite obviously has the potential to become, and that indeed will be a show to be seen.
The Invisible Man continues at C Too at the India Buildings on Victoria Street until August 19th