Sunday, November 14, 2004

The visit

It oppresses us inwardly, swells like an ulcer. It certainly hits a sore spot; it annoys and troubles us (..) though it is not easy to define the particular sore spot. We are almost at the point of naming it when it again evades analysis. Durrenmatt's play is complex and ambiguous. There is something of a nightmare, of grotesque, of a myth about it, as well as something of a German popular fairy tale. But the most important thing is that it annoys and disturbs one. Why does it have this effect? (Jan Kott, Theatre Notebook)

Complicite's production of The Visit, described in the programme note as a theatre of observation, of bodily impulses, of class-defences and universal desires was first staged in 1989 and revived in 1991. It is a story of a millionaire Clara Zachanassian who returns to her poor central european hometown and offers a billion to anyone who kills a man who seduced her years ago. At first, the locals reject the money. Soon afterwards, however, they begin buying on credit things they would never normally afford. Still, they don't want to admit in front of themselves that they are prepraing for a murder...

Complicite's staging of The Visit is full of physicall invention and caricature.A gash of red. presumably her lips, crosses her fungoid features, and black furs and green-and-purple silks swathe the parts beneath. She walks in jerks, like some tiny, malevolent stick insect. When she laughs, it is hard to know if she is coughing, whimpering or creaking.- wrote The Times about Kathryn Hunter, who played Clara and received for this part 1990 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress.

Annabel Arden, who co-directed the play with Simon McBurney, was awarded with 1989 Time Out Theatre Award for Best Director.

Research by Catherine, Natalie, Kasia and Tom.



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