There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people that we pass by every day. We don’t take much notice of them, whether they are dressed for business, leisure, or hard physical work. Everyone lives in their own small bubble, taking a passing fancy only in those who catch their eye. Tena Štivičić, in her play Invisible, attempts to capture the threads that connect the seemingly disparate lives at either side of the social and financial stratosphere.
The Boston College theatre department presented this nuanced and compelling drama last week on Robsham’s main stage. Set against a backdrop of grey synthetic rectangles, the scenes of Invisible could be transformed into a variety of environments through the use of projection across these huge slabs of wall. The costume work is simple, but effective, and the props add to the play without distracting from the action on stage.
The play follows the lives of a number of eastern European immigrants as they work to make their way to London, escaping their tumultuous and dangerous lives back home. In addition to the immigrants, Invisible keeps an eye on a London businessman, struggling with his career and unfulfilling marriage. The play makes this division between the characters whose lives are so high above everyone else’s that they don’t notice those beneath them and the characters who are invisible right from the playbill. The cast section is divided in two. One half says “Fortress Europe,” listing the names of the native Londonians—the other half says “The Others,” and contains those characters who are just struggling to get by. Everyone does a very good job in becoming their character, not simply pretending to be someone they aren’t. While audience members might see familiar faces up on stage, they will quickly lose them in complexities and nuances of the show.
While Invisible does play much as expected in terms of portraying the struggles of the working class characters, it adds an interesting twist. The lives of the immigrants, like Lara (Nicole Hayes, MCAS ’20), Anton (Dustin Uher, LSOE ’19), Dane (Matthew Dolly, MCAS ’21), Mykola (David Lewis, an administrator in Information Technology Services), Stefan (Nick Borbolla, MCAS ’21), and Sera (Rachel Chan, MCAS ’20), are much more fulfilled and meaningful. They gather around their dinner table to share a meal of gherkins—Lara has been trying to find a jar of them that tastes like they do at home. They practice their English together, and spend time talking about each other’s days. These people are coming to England essentially alone, but manage to find purpose and family in each other—except in the case of Sera, who has come in search of her husband, only to find that the phone number he gave her was invalid, decimating her chances of reconnecting. While they do not live in luxurious surroundings, they do their best to create a home and a community from which they can draw purpose and strength.
On the other hand, the characters like Felix (Michael Mazzone, MCAS ’19) and Ann (Allison O’Brien, BC ’22) lead empty lives full of meaningless career goals and flimsy personal relationships. It’s clear the Felix and Ann don’t love each other—they don’t even like each other very much. Felix is easily enthralled by the promise of greener pastures from Gerry (Sam Szemerenyi, MCAS ’20), and Ann remains cold and standoffish toward her husband under the guise of furthering her own career. While the immigrant characters struggle toward greater financial and social status, we watch the lives of those who have it trickle away in disappointment.
Featured Image by Kristin Saleski