Bush Theatre Welcomes Visitors this Christmas

Penny Flood reviews a gentle love story about two people facing separation

Visitors is a gentle, slow-burning love story about two people who are about to be separated after many years together.

Childhood sweethearts Edie and Arthur are in their seventies and coming to terms with the fact that Arthur can’t look after Edie properly now her body and mind are deteriorating. They need help so their son Stephen (Simon Muller has employed a carer, Kate (Eleanor Wylde).

Eleanor Wyld (Kate) and Robin Soans (Arthur). Photo: Mark Douet

Arthur and Edie are alone on stage for most of the first act awaiting the arrival of the carer. The future’s frightening so to fill the time they chat about their lives. They’ve had a happy life together and they’ve got their memories to shore them up although, thanks to Edie's gathering dementia, they’re not necessarily in the right order.

Star of the show is Linda Bassett as matriarch Edie who she plays with a mix of emotions: fear, confusion, happiness sadness and humour. She’s ably supported by the multi-talented Robin Soans as Arthur (Robin wrote the highly acclaimed Perseverance Drive which played at The Bush in the summer), who is having come to terms with his own physical demise.

Eleanor Wyld (Kate) and Linda Bassett (Edie). Photo: Mark Douet

Carer Kate (Eleanor Wylde) is a great character with bags of energy and just the ticket for Edie, especially when they duet on Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz. But she has her own set of problems, as does Stephen ((Simon Muller). These become more evident as time goes on and Edie’s condition gets worse. All their lives have become more entwined and they have to find their own answers.

Linda Bassett (Edie). Photo: Mark Douet

But it’s not all doom and gloom, it’s an intelligent, entertaining, witty and thought provoking script. The end, although tear-jerkingly sad, is also triumphant. 

However, at just over two hours it’s a tad too long and the first act in particular begins to drag. And there are some irritating inconsistencies, but it’s Barney Norris' first play so let’s look forward to the next.

Visitors runs at The Bushg till January 10. Find out more and book tickets online or call the box office on 020 8743 5050.

December 8, 2014