Thurs 20th February - Sat 22nd February & Mon 24th February - Sat 29th February 1992
Directed by Jacquie Penrose
Would you sacrifice a friend for money? Of course you wouldn't. Even though times are so very hard. Even though a millionaire comes to visit and offers fabulous sums in return for..... But of course you wouldn't. Would you?
'The Visit' is a tragi-comedy, originally entitled 'Der Besuch der alten Dame' and was written in 1956. It premiered in Zurich that year and went on to be produced in Paris and on Broadway. The play raises the question of the corruptibility of justice by asking whether it can be exchanged for material wealth.
The story opens with the town of Gullen awaiting the arrival of millionaire and previous Gullen inhabitant, Claire Zachanassian. The town is in a state of disrepair, and the residents are suffering considerable hardship and poverty. The task of convincing Claire to make a donation has fallen to Anton Schill who co-incidentally was also once Claire's lover. Initially the meeting goes well, and Claire announces that she will make a donation of one billion dollars, half for the town and half to be shared among the families. The townspeople are overjoyed, but their joy is short-lived when Claire's conditions for the donation are revealed. Needing to exact revenge over Schill, for his denial of paternity of her child (who later died) and over the town who produced two false witnesses and drove her away at the time, she declares that her donation is conditional on Schill's death. The Mayor initially refuses but the play follows what happens as more and more pressure is brought to bear, and we see first-hand, how everything, including justice, can be bought.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Anton Schill||Pete Woodward|
|Claire Zachanassian||Jude Salmon|
|Mayor of Gullen||John Corelli|
|Bobby||Rita de Bunsen|
|Townspeople||Members of the Company|
|Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday,|
|Megan Varilly, Christopher Evans, |
Amy Hudson, Vicky Howse
|Friday, Monday, Wednesday,|
|Paul McMahon, Alexandra Thomas, |
Victoria Simmons, Carla Eberhardt
|Stage Manager||Aislinn D'Souza|
|Lighting||Mai Hawker, Sacha Pennington-Ellis|
|Set Construction||David Hemsley-Brown|
"Nothing will damage this comedy (which ends tragically) more than deadly seriousness."
"Tragedy assumes the presence of guilt, trouble, moderation, the overview, responsibility. In the mess that is our century, this cleaning out of the white race, there are no longer any guilty men, nor are there any to be held responsible any more. Nobody can do anything about it and nobody wanted it to happen..... We are too collectively guilty, too collectively embedded in the sins of our fathers and our forefathers. We are only children of children. That is not our guilt, only our bad luck: guilt nowadays is a personal achievement only, a religious deed. Only the comedy can reach us now."
"Now being Swiss isn't as easy as people think..... To survive this fate unharmed needs a virtue that most of us don't process, namely, the ability to laugh at ourselves."
Friedrich Dürrenmatt on 'The Visit', on 20th Century Theatre, on being Swiss
Casting in the Bench Theatre Company's production of 'The Visit' was spot on - everyone looked the part with some fine character acting and hilarious send-ups.
The production was a brave and successful attempt at something unusual by an amateur company. Jude Salmon as Claire Zachanassian gave a faultless performance and a cold and calculating woman who returns for revenge on her native town of Gullen.
The town, who hounded her out for bearing an illegitimate child, is deep in recession. With billions to spend she can save them but her demands on the town are perverse and as the tension rises so does the humour. Compelling viewing. The production continues until February 29.
The News, 21st February 1992