by Diana Miranda
Invisibility’s appeal has a new angle in this show by AKIMBO physical theatre company. Loosely inspired by H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, AKIMBO gives the narrative an original twist that locates the story within the millennial scene of social media, instant messaging, pub parties and nightclubs. The story stands on its own and explores themes that move away from the questions of science and ethics of Wells’ novel. As such, AKIMBO’s No One navigates (in)visibility in the digital era and offers a tragicomic thriller that starts as a detective investigation and slowly takes on a warmer, more intimate focus on an invisible man that craves connection.
The audience sees nothing at first, then they take part in the mystery of a stool stopping mid-air during a pub fight and a bill flying like a butterfly to a waitress’ hand. The company achieves these illusions deftly through mime and witty stage tricks. When Griffin finally appears onstage, wearing skin-coloured underwear and only visible to the audience, the company interacts with the unseen through agile, choreographed movements, making use of their physical theatre background.
Griffin finds support and friendship in Marvel. Together, they benefit from Griffin’s invisibility, which the narrative leaves unexplained. They make a profit out of it, but mostly use it for amusement. That is, until Griffin lay eyes on a certain waitress.
However, it is the moments of direct interaction with Griffin that they don’t navigate invisibility as well – such as when eyes lock or objects are exchanged. But what you lose in those bits, you gain watching the company working together. Trained in mime, martial arts and drama, the company moves with synchronicity. They’re fast-paced, engaging to watch, they perform intense fight scenes and vibrant shifts. However, they could afford to be half a beat slower at times to catch up with the changes.
Playfulness gives the show a comical tone, keeping it entertaining throughout. The sound design is tightly knitted to the narrative. Carried out via an onstage console, it accentuates the modern, millennial vibe and enhances the show’s dynamism. In addition, the company contrasts scenes of rapid pace with slower, more intimate moments that depict Griffin’s innocence and provide a turning point to navigate his emotional fragility.
Ultimately, No One combines elements of comedy and violence and, however fictional, points at a problematic society. This modern re-telling of what invisibility means contains broad themes about a contemporary condition, which can be further honed to address the question hanging in the air: what does it mean to be no one in a fast-paced world driven by social media?
No One runs through 21 August in Edinburgh, through 28 August in Oslo, and through 4 September in Bergen.
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