The Invisible Man, Menier Chocolate Factory, London

3.00

Mystery man can’t hide all the flaws

When I read The Invisible Man as a boy, the detail that intrigued me most was the idea that any food consumed by the hero in his disembodied mode would be gruesomely visible to others.

Thereafter, I've always had a yen to see what a half-digested full English breakfast would look like suspended in mid-air. Though it's well within his range, master illusionist Paul Kieve stops short of affording us such a spectacle in this stage version. But to make up for that, there's certainly plenty of swirling ham, and not a little free-floating cod, in Ken Hill's endearingly daft and determinedly tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the H G Wells sci-fi classic.

"It's this ghost they're talkin' about," declares Maria Friedman's busty, narrow-minded battleaxe of a landlady, "I'm feelin' an emanation meself – unless I 'ad too many pickled eggs last night." Her remark will give you some indication of the tone of the show that presents the "'ideous 'appenings" at the bucolic village of Iping as an extended spoof with a music hall framework and a narrator in the shape of the tramp (a chirpy but wasted Gary Wilmot) who was terrorised into becoming the anti-hero's reluctant henchman.

This adaptation began life almost 20 years ago at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and watching Ian Talbot's current production, you wonder whether the smaller, more sophisticated Menier is the ideal venue for a romp that needs the anarchic warmth and happy-go-lucky party atmosphere that seems to be generated naturally at Joan Littlewood's old stomping ground. And when viewed close up, Paul Kieve's special effects begin to look a little less magical.

Their ingenuity and wit remain highly enjoyable, enhanced by the sepulchral mocking note hit by John Gordon Sinclair in the hero's dematerialised pronouncements. There's the room that seems to go berserk as it ransacks itself. There's the landlady's ample bosom that is jiggled up and down by an unseen molester. Knives, cash boxes, even a glass of port fly unaided through the air. But I no longer felt quite so baffled by the celebrated moment when the Invisible Man peels away his bandages to reveal the void beneath while still managing to suck on an insouciant cigarette. And it's disappointing that these devices fail to escalate in mayhem as the deluded, would-be benevolent despot ("There will be no dictators when I rule the world") institutes his violent reign of terror.

The engaging cast – which includes Jo Stone-Fewings as the deceptively silly-ass squire and Geraldine Fitzgerald as the pipe-smoking suffragette – throw themselves with a will into the mad miming fits whereby they feign wrestles with thin air and tugs-of-war with vacant handcuffs. I particularly enjoyed Christopher Godwin as the Squire's widely travelled, ludicrously know-all factotum. Calming the hysterical maid (excellent Natalie Casey) with a slap about the chops, he explains that "I was once a male nurse in Johannesburg." But again, because the production refuses to stagger its comic resources, it develops a wearing repetitiveness, arousing the suspicion that, like its titular character, this Invisible Man does not have much up its sleeve.

To 13 February (020 7907 7060)

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering