In Review: Big Finish: The Invisible Man

“Your meddling will bring you despair.”

Synopsis: In the midst of a snowstorm, a stranger arrives in an English country inn, seeking solitude. Soon, inexplicable goings-on at the Coach and Horses bring fear to the village.

Two very different men – the scholarly Dr Kemp and gentleman-of-the-road Thomas Marvel – are drawn into terrible events beyond their understanding.

A man named Griffin has defied the laws of nature, and is about to embark on a reign of terror. For he is… The Invisible Man.

Review: “Your meddling will bring you despair.”

That one line addressed both H.G. Wells’ rationale for writing The Invisible Man and the realities Jonathan Barnes faced in adapting it. Wells wrote The Invisible Man as a morality play with some local color thrown in for dark comedic effect. That morality play, or thesis novel, to apply the modern term, served themes, not characters. As a result, Griffin was a thesis and not a man. This presented Barnes with significant structural issues. After all, Sir John Hurt was there to portray a man and not a thesis. He was there to portray the despair caused by Griffin, and the despair felt by Griffin.

Hurt discussed his approach in the behind-the-scenes interviews. He didn’t like to read a book on its own. He liked to treat a book as a play and be surrounded by people who helped breathe life into the experience. Barnes obliged his leading man by shifting the narrative point of view of Wells’ text from third person to first person. In the process, he fleshed out Kemp and Marvel. This, in turn, gave Hurt greater depth around which to build his pitch perfect performance. In addition, Barnes added more supporting female roles and significantly raised the psychological stakes within the final act. In the end, Barnes, Hurt, and the marvelous team at Big Finish transcended a moral and created a universe. They knew from experience that all stories should be universes.

On a personal note, we here at SciFi Pulse would like to thank Big Finish for providing Sir John Hurt with a lovely soundscape stage in his final years. It was obvious from his interviews that he was truly happy to be surrounded by like minded souls while doing what he loved to do.

You can purchase The Invisible Man here.

Producer David Richardson

Script Editor Matt Fitton

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Written By: HG Wells, dramatised by Jonathan Barnes

Directed By: Ken Bentley


John Hurt (Griffin), Blake Ritson (Kemp), Peter Noble (Thomas Marvel), Dan Starkey (Teddy Henfrey), Annette Badland (Mrs Hall), David Rintoul (Reverend Bunting/ Dr Cuss/ The American), Richard Dixon (Colonel Adye/ Mariner/ Shopkeeper), Alex Clatworthy (Agatha/ Millie/ Marie), Alexander Forsyth (Sergeant Perkins/ Constable Jaffers/Barman). Other parts played by members of the cast.

Big Finish: The Invisible Man
  • The Good: Story, Performances
  • The Bad: We'll miss John Hurt.
  • Story
  • Performances
  • Audio Production

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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