THE STORY: In a farmhouse at the edge of Salisbury Plain, a family is falling apart. Stephen can’t afford to put his mother into care; Arthur can’t afford to stop working and look after his wife. When a young stranger with blue hair moves in to care for Edie as her mind unravels, the family are forced to ask: Are we living the way we wanted? VISITORS is a sharply funny love story that takes a haunting, beautiful look at the way our lives slip past us.
“[T]ackles the difficult subject of dementia with sensitivity and just the right amount of comedy…This is the first full-length play by Barney Norris and it is an absolute beauty, by turns funny, tender and desperately sad. It is also a work that will strike resonant chords with many, since it concerns the cruel affliction of dementia…That might sound depressing, but this is also a play about a loving and enduring marriage…a mixture of tenderness and emotional truth…great richness and an almost poetic resonance in the writing…It is much harder to write interestingly about happiness than it is about misery, but Norris often does just that with his loving portrait of a marriage—though there is poignancy and darkness too…the final scene proves as poignant as those great scenes of departure in the plays of Chekhov…[An] exceptional play.” —The Telegraph (London). “In VISITORS, a tender and often wryly funny first full-length play by Barney Norris, Edie’s gradual decline and its effects on her family…are explored with moving simplicity and unadorned eloquence. Although on the surface VISITORS is a fine-grained, naturalistic play about a couple dealing with the cruel realities of aging, layers of resonance reveal themselves as Edie’s new frankness takes hold.” —The New York Times. “[A]stonishingly accomplished. It’s a sensitive and wise piece about the pains of ageing and life’s transitory nature…Yet instead of addressing these subjects in a preachy or assertive fashion, VISITORS quietly illustrates them through the tangled relationships of four skillfully drawn characters…Norris is particularly good at evoking the little rituals of domestic harmony, and we see the tiny endearments and physical intimacies that bind together a couple whose lives’ rhythms are perfectly synchronised—yet on the brink of being pulled apart…as this extraordinarily mature piece demonstrates, Norris is a perceptive and humane craftsman, who finds several layers of comedy in everyday misunderstandings. More than that, he has created an aching love story—and chosen to focus on the elderly, whose romantic experience is so often neglected. He is a talent to watch.” —Evening Standard (London).