“Invisible” at the New Wolsey Theatre, October 2011.
At one time, when a foreign language was heard on our streets, we assumed it was a tourist – nowadays the immediate response is to think “immigrant”. With asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and economic European migrants too often lumped together in the public mind, it is good to be reminded that each, however they arrived on our shores, is an individual with a story.
Invisible, by Croatian playwright Tena Štivičić, premiered at the New Wolsey Thetare, Ipswich and the international cast of seven brought us the story of a group of immigrants including Lara (played by Anna Elijasz in a moving and engaging performance), the young girl who has come to make her fortune and is relentlessly optimistic as she takes her English lessons whilst working as a domestic, and (Krystian Godlewski) the carpenter who finds work as a window-cleaner.
The story shows what happens when the parallel worlds of the migrants, and the British they live alongside, dramatically overlap, and involves Felix (a very convincing performance by Jon Foster), a businessman caught in his midlife crisis.
The story unfolds on a raised dais, and the cast carry (often dream-like) the chairs, roll the tables or refrigerator from the rear of the stage up an incline to transform the performance space into different scenes. Costumes are on a clothes rail and all the props are also in sight in a storage area at the back of the stage.
Playing all the other roles, with a change of costume and accent, the cast have us rooting for the migrants in their search for a better life and, although the story is heart-breaking at times, we have to smile as Lara cannot resist anything her employer discards as she attempts to turn a rented room into a home …or buys nine jars of pickled gherkins searching for some that taste the same as those from her homeland.
This plays successfully holds a mirror to life in Britain as the immigrants’ battle with bureaucracy (shown in silhouette behind a translucent screen) or puzzle over why we say “sorry” when someone bumps into us, or why British women wear so few clothes.
This was a two hour play with no interval but I was riveted by the desperation of the migrants, how the British they met treated them, and the glimpses of what happens to them in the future.
It is now touring the country….. look out for Invisible.
(This review also appears onhttp://www.onesuffolk.net/home/previews-and-reviews/reviews)