News: cast and creatives announced for revival of Barney Norris’ Visitors

Casting has been announced for VISITORS the major new UK revival of Barney Norris’ award-winning play that will run at The Watermill Theatre Friday 31 March until Saturday 22 April.

Edie’s mind is starting to falter and Arthur’s legs aren’t what they were but, from the comfort of their armchairs, they dive into a kaleidoscope of memories from their life together. In their sleepy farmhouse at the edge of Salisbury Plain, they await the arrival of a young visitor and a reunion that will expose a family whose closeness is fraying at the seams.

Nathalie Barclay, whose stage credits include Boeing Boeing (UK tour), Positive (Park Theatre) Antigone (The Lowry & UK tour), and whose screen credits include Killing Eve (BBC America/AMC) and Trigonometry (BBC), will play ‘Kate’.

Tessa Bell-Briggs, whose extensive stage credits include Steaming (Harold Pinter Theatre); Situation Comedy (The Ambassadors Theatre); The Daughter-in-Law (Arcola Theatre);; The Outsider and As Good a Time as Any (The Print Room at the Coronet), and whose screen credits include This Way Up and Skins (Channel 4); The Brittas Empire (BBC), Poirot: The Third Girl (Granada), will play ‘Edie’

Christopher Ravenscroft, best known for his role as Inspector Mike Burden in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, and whose recent stage credits include Witness for the Prosecution (County Hall), Humble Boy (Orange Tree Theatre) and many roles at the Royal Shakespeare Company will play ‘Arthur’.

Patrick Toomey, whose recent screen credits include Nolly (ITV) and The Crown (Netflix) and whose extensive stage credits include The Sugar House(Finborough Theatre); The Remains Of The Day(Out Of Joint); The Exorcist(Bill Kenwright UK tour); will play ‘Stephen’.

It will also be directed by Barney Norris (The Wellspring – Royal and Derngate, Nightfall – The Bridge Theatre), an Associate Artist at The Watermill.  His tender portrayal of a family on the cusp of major change, learning to live and love with dementia, is set in his beloved rural Wiltshire. Barney Norris is an award-winning playwright and acclaimed author of novels UndercurrentFive Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain and The Vanishing Hours.

A life-affirming tribute to love and gratitude for a life well-lived, VISITORS premiered at the Arcola Theatre in March 2014. Following a national tour and a transfer to the Bush Theatre later that year, it was selected by Henry Hitchings for the Evening Standard and Mark Lawson for the Guardian as one of the best productions of 2014 and won the Critics’ Circle Award and the OffWestEnd Award for Most Promising Playwright for Norris. It was also nominated the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Best New Play Award, and the Evening Standard Theatre Awards Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright, and Best New Play from the Offies Awards

Barney Norris said, “VISITORS is a story about love, the way that love shapes a life, the way that love extracts a toll, the way that love defines us. It’s also a play about people clinging on to ways of life, trying to make the world work for them as it seems to be trying to fall apart. And a play about what it’s like to live in the country. I wrote it fifteen years ago, a love song to the world I come from, and with this production I am bringing it home. The play’s set outside the north Wiltshire village of Pewsey, and the Watermill, I think, is the closest producing theatre to the play’s actual landscape. When Paul Hart, the Watermill’s artistic director, asked if I’d like to do it there, I jumped at the chance.

Revisiting stories as we go through our lives is a pleasure nearly all of us know – we all see multiple productions of the same Shakespeare, re-read our favourite novels, re-watch our favourite films. Returning to a play I wrote as a younger man has been a fascinating way of marking the passing of my own time. When I first staged this play, nothing had ever really gone wrong in my life. Now, a decade older, having survived some difficult times, and been a carer myself – care and caring are central to the vision of love offered in VISITORS – I look back at this play and I can see how I have changed. That’s exciting and intriguing – it will lead to a different production, and I can’t wait to see how it develops.”

VISITORS will be directed by Barney Norris, with design from Good Teeth (a theatre design studio founded by James Perkins and Victoria Smart, Associate Artists at the Lyric Hammersmith), with lighting design by James Whiteside and with sound design and composition from Anna Clock. The stage management team are Caitlin Ravenscroft (DSM), Gracie Adlington (ASM) and Natalie Toney (ASM).

The Watermill is a 200-seat regional powerhouse, with an unparalleled reputation for producing bold, world-class theatre with local and national reach from its home in West Berkshire. It also has an extensive programme of community outreach, and schools touring work, and a firm commitment to diversity, education, and talent development. 

In the wake of the shock news that The Watermill Theatre had 100% of its annual funding from Arts Council England cut, the Newbury venue has launched a new fundraising campaign – THRIVE. Individuals can donate from as little £1 to show their support and ensure that the work of The Watermill, and everyone who is part of its community, can continue to thrive. There is also the option of becoming a Friend of the Watermill, from as little as £30 per year.

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