Fringe mash-ups – Austen with zombies! The all-singing, all-dancing Game of Thrones! What if Macbeth was really Kurt Cobain? – are a common thing, and often a case of hit or miss. But the premise “What if the Invisible Man was trapped in a 40s noir plot?” from Blabbermouth Theatre is one that works. Despite moments that feel a little more pedestrian, it offers multiple flashes of pure genius.
The best parts of the show are when we’re exploring the Invisible Man’s life (or Gus’ life, as he is known here) pre-accident. We see scenes of him ignored and passed over at work, or drowning in a sea of files. There’s the incessant talk of his self-obsessed girlfriend, more truly interested in the black fox around her neck than the man in front of her. And there’s the faux promise of the American dream, with a class of accountants congratulated as the true heroes of America. (“You wear hats – just like cowboys!”)
It’s all conducted at breakneck speed as the rest of the cast follow Gus around like a noisy New York mob – with whirling desk lamps, shrill phones and the constant narcissistic shouting of doomed individuals. It sounds like a mess and is anything but, managing to tap into the strain of darkness present in mid-20th Century American culture.
Sadly, things die down a little when Gus becomes invisible – partly because we lose the compelling stage presence of Harris MacPherson, but also because the later scenarios aren’t quite as excellent. A press conference falls flat, several of the actors start to stumble over their lines and the actual conclusion to the piece is a little rushed, everything coming together a bit too quickly. It’s a shame, given the strength of the start, but it also doesn’t detract from the earlier successes. At just under an hour, this is short, sweet and decidedly snappy.