Theatre review: Visitors at the Arcola

Up in Arms presents
by Barney Norris at The Arcola Theatre
Directed by Alice Hamilton

Up in Arms presents VISITORS by Barney Norris at The Arcola Theatre Directed by Alice Hamilton Producer Chloe Courtney Design Francesca Reidy Lighting Simon Gethin Thomas Sound Frank Moon Cast Edie - Linda Bassett Stephen - Simon Muller Arthur - Robin Soans Kate - Eleanor Wyld - Credit: Photo by mark Douet

Barney Norris’ Visitors is yet another ground-breaking production at the intimate and charming Arcola Theatre in Dalston. The production is staged at the smaller of the two theatre studios, where as a member of the audience you feel almost part of the show itself.

In a remote farmhouse at the edge of Salisbury Plain, a family is falling apart. Arthur has been a farmer all his life and cannot afford to now stop working and look after his wife Edie, who is falling victim to dementia. His son Stephen works, ironically, in life insurance and his visits to the family farm are rare and awkward, unable as he is to deal with the situation other than with with poor jokes and self-pity. When Kate, a young woman with blue hair, moves in to care for Edie as her mind unravels, the family are forced to ask whether they are living the way they wanted.

This is a beautiful love story that focuses on an elderly couple who have never lost their sense of romance. Tender moments between the two and their concern for one another are interspersed with wry humour, mainly from the dry wit of Edie.

All the characters are well-drawn and are portrayed by a fantastic cast, directed by Alice Hamilton. Robin Soans is fantastic as Arthur, the old-fashioned farmer who clearly dotes on his wife. Simon Muller is convincing as the socially inept and selfish son Stephen and Linda Bassett conveys well the plight of Edie who alternates between wise and shrewd commentary on what goes on around her and the increasing loss of memory which is threatening to engulf her.

A reminder of the fragility of life and how quickly it can pass us by, this is a sensitive and endearing piece, highly recommended.

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Until March 29.

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