“…something inside of me, it’s just been missing”
Ben Ockrent’s contribution to The Secrets is the rather tender The Visitor, the third in the series, where Dean’s life in his adoptive home is rocked when a young woman tracks him down and claims to be his sister. The cosy domesticity of his middle-class existence is thus challenged by the revelations that spill from her mouth but is her desperation rooted in complete honesty or something more calculating.
Ockrent explores the tension at the heart of Dean’s life beautifully, torn between the present and the past, questioning the strength of blood ties, and layering in the aspects of class and race that figure into the equation. Paige Meade’s Cassie is a Southend girl through and through and her rough edges clearly ruffle the liberal well-to-do consciences of Helen Baxendale and Anthony Flanagan’s parents Julie and Nigel.
And unspoken through all of this is the issue of race – Dean and Paige are mixed race and so there’s an additional pull to the pseudo-reunification here, especially as Julie and Nigel had their own child after adopting Dean. Anthony Welsh plays Dean with huge grace, the conflict inside of him always beautifully understated but never less than compelling. The ending may be a little pat but it is an indulgence one is inclined to forgive.