Kate Cook plays an array of crackpot characters in The Invisible Woman. It’s a thrilling tale of derring-do in WWII.
Repressed housewife, Mrs Bishop, is sent away to stay with her Scottish mother by her domineering peg-legged husband, who insists she is useless and having a nervous breakdown.
Immediately proving him wrong, her successive work with the War Office leads to a meeting with the rather dashing, pipe-smoking Major Chumly Whatsit, who enlists her as a spy, as all the while he waxes lyrical about his favourite poet, Edward Lear, with many references to his famous poem, The Owl and the Pussycat.
While in training, Mrs Bishop is given a new nickname, Pookie, and later the codename “Invisible Woman”. Soon she is sent off on “Operation Owl and Pussycat”, where her contact in occupied France is a man who goes by the name “Runcible Spoon”. Adventures continue when she is caught in action, but it all ends happily ever after.
Cook opens the play saying she has researched the role of women during the war and this is her putting it into some sort of context, told through the experiences of Mrs Bishop and a raft of other characters, including 15 year old daughter Cecily’s quest for love; the Scottish grandmother, whose voice was reminiscent of Bubbles in Ab Fab; bullying Mr Bishop, the grumpy husband; various military men; and even some chickens.
A comic one woman play, The Invisible Woman is a lot of fun. It’s a simple set with one solitary light bulb and a stool, with Cook parodying different characters with whimsical playfulness. Her use of a miniature plane and a torch, projecting a shadow on the backcloth to depict the military action, was particularly clever and raised a big laugh.
There’s a touch of ‘Allo ‘Allo humour and characterisation in the play but this adds to the enjoyment of the piece and it’s worth putting on your Fringe agenda for an hour of nostalgic humour. Swing dancing, sabotage, the Resistance, the Gestapo and Edward Lear, Invisible Woman has it all.