Venue 13, Edinburgh
One of the delights of the Edinburgh Festival is that you stumble across interesting shows in the unlikeliest places. We chanced upon Invisible City because we bumped into its star, Lowri Jenkins, wandering across the Meadows carrying a flag advertising her show. She was engaging enough to spark our curiosity, so we sought out the hard-to-find Venue 13 right down at the end of the Royal Mile, and we’re glad we did.
This deceptively simple tale is a monologue featuring Marie, a young woman from a remote village in Wales, seeking her fortune in the big city. There’s much to recommend it. Take the opening scene, where Jenkins bravely explores the comic possibilities of saying the word, ‘Yes,’ in just about every variation possible. In the hands of a less skilled performer, this could have backfired horribly, but she handles it well and we soon realise that she is midway through a conversation with her Mam, back in Wales, one of many that we’re treated to. Invisible City starts of as a comedy but developed into an affecting study of loneliness and isolation. At first Marie is full of boundless optimism, eager to make friends and find a job. But as the play progresses she’s reduced to trying to start up a romantic liaison… with a lemon.
The piece is a collaboration between writer/performer Jenkins, choreographer Jennifer Fletcher and composer Mat Martin. It ranges from the hilarious (Marie’s hapless attempts to shop at a state-of-the-art supermarket) and the downright tragic – her eventual descent into depression.
It’s by no means a perfect production – occasionally some of the movement scenes feel slightly overplayed – but it’s charming and original. A scene where Jenkins sings an old Welsh hymn is particularly poignant. Do take the trouble to seek this out. I think you’ll be glad you did.