Sometimes you see a piece of theatre that is so superb and shines so bright in every single way that it knocks you sideways. No One by Akimbo Theatre is exactly that.
quite simply flawless
Billed as a “a modern re-mix of HG Well’s The Invisible Man as a high-octane thriller”, it’s possible to be dubious as to how exactly five actors supported by one tech on a bare stage that never has any more than one small stool on it can achieve the lofty heights of the special effects of what we might be expecting from an action film. How they achieve this is simply brilliant, as is their interpretation of the story and the way it unfolds.
Using main character names from the original novel but set in the present day, we are introduced to Thomas Marvel who is the prime suspect in the disappearance of a young waitress Mia Kemp, as he is interviewed then interrogated by two very contrasting police officer characters. As they ask him questions he tells a story of how he met Mia and how they were dating. The police have video evidence from social media showing how Marvel has become a well-known magician, levitating different objects and people in a way that nobody can understand, and picture and video evidence of a party where Mia is seen to be dancing with No One. The photos and clips are played out by the entire cast, but as they are interrupted by the police they are invited to pause the video, run it in slow motion, and then backwards. It’s an incredible piece of physical theatre to witness an expertly choreographed fight scene forwards, in slow motion, and then backwards: all of them precisely the same.
When it turns out that one of the Police Detectives, Rodriguez, is actually on the trail of Griffin, the Invisible Man, believing him to be a violent dangerous murderer, Marvel starts telling his truth, and we see the story unfold from the beginning, using all the different cast members. We see how Marvel meets Griffin who is hungry and cold, eating the food that Marvel leaves out for cats, how they become friends, how Griffin becomes the invisible magic partner and how the relationship with Mia Kemp really develops.
The style of this piece takes a minute to adjust to at the beginning as it has a style of its own: physical, lyrical, chaotic, and ultimately still. Once in their world it’s a wild ride indeed, but often with hilarious moments plus fully realised scenes. There are many fight scenes that look so realistic that the audience actually gasped, but all these are in their rightful place and never gratuitous. We see dancing with invisible partners, fighting with invisible characters, and the same scenes played from different perspectives that add layer upon layer of understanding to scenes that have played previously. Each of the actors’ multi-rolling characters are fully formed with depth and believability and the switches between them are slick. Each of the actors stand out in their own ways, but special mention has to go to go to Pierre Moullier for his performance as Griffin which he plays almost entirely in flesh coloured underpants. His physical acting skills so close up are jaw dropping. The other amazing effect between them all is that you truly believe the other characters on stage can’t see him.
There are deeper allegories here too: invisibility and how what might be seen as powerful is actually disempowering, how different people view the truth, how different perspectives can distort. Also how different people react to and tolerate other people’s differences. It’s a piece that could be discussed at length, as well as viewed as fantastic entertainment.
This has everything: humour, depth, the whole gamut of emotions, gravity defying fight scenes, outstanding detailed acting, inventive story telling, slick changes. It’s quite simply flawless.