A warm welcome back to the theatre for Visitors

by Sandi Miller
6th December 2021

REVIEW

IT IS A GLORIOUS return to the stage at the Mechanics’ Institute as Warrandyte Theatre Company presents Visitors by Barney Norris.
Nerves were frayed a little as the already-COVID-delayed opening night was threatened by yet another setback in the form of a massive thunderstorm, and its companion blackout, in the hours before curtain call.
However, the storm passed, and we were welcomed into the theatre, with a gentle, poignant, witty production, about love, family, relationships, and aging.
The auditorium was thoughtfully, socially distanced with café style seating, with candles at each couplet — there was no bad seat in the house, even with additional release of seats as the lockdown rules eased.
The deft hand of the Director, Grant Purdy, guided the four performers to weave a beautiful, if heart-aching tale, taking us on a journey through the light and shade of our autumn years.
Some cast members are well-known to audiences, and others are new to the Warrandyte stage.
Carol Keating, as Edie, spends almost the whole two hours on stage, where we watch her slide slowly into dementia.
We are with her through the ebb and flow of her battle with her deteriorating mind, as her adoring husband (played by Reg Ellery) supports her as best as he can as his own body begins to fail him, and he battles to keep the family farm running.
As the dysfunctional, distant son, Stephen, Don Nicholson nails his character as a man who doesn’t fully understand how to relate to people.
The ensemble family perfectly paints the prickly relationship formed when parent and child don’t see eye-to-eye, especially when it comes to life’s big decisions.
But the biggest bouquet must go to newcomer Meg Davies, she gives a masterful performance, transitioning from awkward interloper to tender carer and then turns on a dime to unleash her fury as a woman scorned.
The simple set, the understated lighting and uncluttered audio (with the well-choreographed squeaky floorboard a standout moment) supported the beautifully written script and thoughtful direction.
Visitors runs until December 10, so head to trybooking to scoop up a couple of the few remaining tickets of the 2021 season.
WTC returns for 2022 with Follies Goes off the Rails in March, a season of One-Act Plays in May, Blackbird in July, the long-awaited Calendar Girls in September, before Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge in November.

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