The Invisible Man
Actually, the pierrot show does no more than establish a theatrical framework (the year is 1904), together with a “Good Old Days” chairman, and the magic, a series of clever low-tech illusions created by the Harry Potter maestro Paul Kieve – who worked with Hill on the original show – are more amusing than amazing.
Roll up, then, to see the flying saucepan, the self-turning newspaper pages, the knife with a mind of its own and the jumbo-sized bosom of Maria Friedman which heaves up and down like an undulating escarpment in the village landscape; the over-endowed Maria, I hasten to add, is craftily built up as the double buxom landlady of the Iping village pub.
Her clients include the village bobby (Teddy Kempner), a silly-ass squire (Jo Stone-Fewings), a vagabond narrator (Gary Wilmot) and a pipe-smoking schoolteacher (Geraldine Fitzgerald), all bamboozled by the arrival of the mad inventor, Griffin, who seeks peace and understanding while pinching any passing bum; Wells’s anti-hero was also bent, but on world domination.
Paul Farnsworth’s designs of music hall, saloon bar and forest glade are old-fashionedly cheap and cheerful, and it’s good to see John Gordon Sinclair unmasked at the end: he provides the highlight when, undoing his bandages, he prompts the imperishable line: “Oh my gawd, ’e ain’t got no ’ead.”