‘The Invisible Man’ starring John Hurt reviewed

❉ Now you see him… Big Finish’s ‘The Invisible Man’ is a fitting tribute to the late Sir John Hurt.

 Hurt’s voice is the harbinger of menace and mischief in this story.

In a way, The Invisible Man would be a very good epithet for John Hurt’s acting career. You never ever saw the real John Hurt on screen. He always hid behind whatever character he was playing. Not only that, but the roles he usually played were the silent types – ones that blended into the background. John Hurt was not a flashy actor at all, but when he did speak…you damn better listen.

That rule still applies here as Big Finish Productions has offered us their take on H. G. Wells’ classic tale ‘The Invisible Man’. Considering that Well’s work had hit the public domain and that his stories were right up their alley genre-wise, it comes to now surprise that they would tackle them.

John Hurts stars as Griffin, a scientist driven mad after discovering the secrets of invisibility. Here, Hurt gives a calm but tortured performance. A man driven to such odds for science and freedom. Here he’s reunited with his Naked Civil Servant co-star Annette Badland who plays Mrs. Hall and Dan Starkey as Teddy. Blake Ritson also deserves a shout-out. He gives a strong performance as Kemp and just about leads the story as much as Hurt does. I’d like to see more of him at Big Finish.

Jonathan Barnes’ adaptation is rather faithful while it still has some justifiable changes here and there. I also rather liked the tweak at the ending. It’s fun, it’s a good callback to an earlier part of the story (So do pay attention) and it fits the genre perfectly.

The pacing is good, though I do think it starts to wear a bit towards the end of the first hour. Thankfully the second hour is pitch perfect. The scenes where Griffin tells his story are just so wonderfully performed.

It amazes me how well a story that is so visual can work on audio. It’s not easy to translate visual elements to an audio only medium. In a film you would get a kick out of seeing special effects to indicate the Invisible Man’s presence, but here it’s only the sudden appearance of his voice that gives things away. (Which considering he is Invisible that’s all you really get in a film too!)

Hurt’s voice is the harbinger of menace and mischief in this story.

You might see some other audio adaptations of The Invisible Man (and other Wells stories) hit the market, but with this high quality of acting skill and production? I think not.

If this is any indication at all, then the H.G. Wells series of adaptations from Big Finish will be very nice indeed. Plus, you get to spend just a little bit more time being entertained by Sir John Hurt and that is a precious.

A must for H.G. Wells fans and sci-fi audio lovers. It feels like his stories are where they belong… on the radio.

❉ ‘Big Finish Classics: The Invisible Man’ was released on 17 February 2016 by Big Finish Productions as a CD and download.

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